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Top 5 East Coast states for rat activity

Rat on a public street

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrodents spread over 35 different diseases worldwide. But health concerns are not the only reason that rat control is so important. These sneaky pests can do quite a bit of damage to homes and businesses. Their chewing behaviors can cause fires and weaken walls. Additionally, rats can undermine retaining walls by burrowing. In the past year, more than ⅓ of homeowners in American have spotted a rodent inside their home, meaning these issues are a real threat here in the United States.

Here at Ehrlich, we receive numerous calls about rodent activity. As the rodent experts in the eastern United States, our customers trust us to put their minds at ease by keeping the rats away. In this article, we take a look at the top 5 East Coast states for rat activity based on our call data. From roof rats to the common black rat, discover what you should be looking out for in your state.

5. Massachusetts

The Bay State kicks off our list of most rodent active East Coast states. Every two years, the United States Bureau conducts the American Housing Survey (AHS) to collect data about housing and demographic characteristics. Included in this survey is a measurement of the share of households per city that have reported evidence of mice or rat activity. The 2015 American Housing Survey revealed Boston, Massachusetts as the U.S. city with the second-highest number of households reporting rat activity (17%). In 2016, Boston’s Inspectional Services Department reported over 3,500 “rodent-related complaints” in 2016 in the city alone, which was almost a 30% increase over prior years.

4. Florida

east coast roof rat activity

Rats are very prevalent in Florida, the most common of which is the roof rat. The roof rat is often referred to by a variety of names such as black rat, ship rat, palm rat, or fruit rat. This type of rat gives birth to up to 20 babies per year, allowing an infestation to happen quickly.

Roof rats are usually about 6-8 inches in length with a tail of equal length, and enjoy nesting near the roof, as indicated by their name. They are often compared to Norway rats, another common Florida rat. Norway rats are often a bit larger and prefer to burrow underground and in basements over nesting in attics and roofs. Their droppings are also generally larger than those of roof rats, and they only live for about one year, whereas roof rats can survive 2-3 years.

Not as common as the roof rat or Norway rat, but still found in Northern Florida, is the wood rat. If anyone has ever called you a “pack rat,” they were actually making a reference to this rat species. The name comes from their propensity to steal small items. Wood rats are about the same size as Norway rats, but are similar in appearance to hamsters.


east coast rat activity

Rat activity in especially Baltimore, Maryland’s most populous city, has given the state quite a “ratty” reputation. Animal Planet named Baltimore the #3 Worst Rat City in the World, and in addition, the state has a long rat history. In 1947, John B. Calhoun, a research psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, began his research on ways to control rodent populations on a plot of land behind his home in Towson, Maryland. Since that time, a great deal of rat research has taken place in the state, particularly at Johns Hopkins University, where Calhoun was working when he began his research.

Mr. Calhoun was not the only Marylander to take interest in rats. Maryland rats even have their own documentary called “Rat Film.” The film’s director, Theo Anthony, used this disease-ridden pest to explore the history of Baltimore.

Maryland’s most common type of rat is the Norway rat. Because these rats like to live in close proximity to people, the dense population of cities in Maryland, such as Baltimore and Annapolis, are very attractive to them. Norway rats will often forage through backyards to find discarded table scraps in compost piles and garbage cans.

2. New York

When you think of New York state, you likely think of the populous tourist center that is New York City. It makes sense then, that Norway rats, who prefer to live near people, are quite pervasive in the Big Apple and the state as a whole. The New York City Department of Health has reported over 10,000 rat sighting complaints since the beginning of 2017. This hefty statistic led to the city putting together a $32 million plan to reduce rat populations by 70% in a year and a half from the start of the program.

1. Pennsylvania

Finally, we have arrived at our rattiest East Coast state…Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, comes in at #1 in the AHS ranking of rodent activity reporting in U.S. cities, outranking New York City and Boston. 18% of households in the “City of Brotherly Love” reported signs of rodent activity. On the East side of the state, 9% of Pittsburgh households reported signs of rodent activity. That’s almost 120,000 households! Much like the other states on this list, the most common rats found in Pennsylvania are roof rats and Norway rats, two rat species that have no qualms about making their way into your home.

No matter where you live or operate your business, Ehrlich Pest Control can help get rid of your rat problem. Contact us today to get started.

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