Boston ranks # 2 on the list of the most rat-infested US cities
Apartment Guide researchers used data from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey to find which US metropolis had the highest percentage of pest infestation. —Apartment guide
Second place is usually heartbreaking for Bostonians, but in some cases, it’s probably for the best.
According to census data compiled by Apartment Guide, Boston is the second most rat-infested metropolitan area in the US with 18.38 percent of the country’s rodent sightings, just behind Philadelphia’s 18.9 percent. Both cities were well above the national average of 11.9 percent.
The study, which compared the 15 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States, found Washington, DC, in third place with 15.9 percent, followed by New York with just 11.2 percent.
This finding may not come as a surprise to many in the area after an increasing number of rodents spotted Cambridge and Boston last year prompted both cities to take action to control their pest populations. The Boston City Council has raised the issue several times, with Councilor Liz Breadon calls the rodents pose a “public health risk and concern”. Cambridge initiated a “Rodent Taskforce” and created a heat map to show where the critters are hiding in the city.
The results come as no surprise to Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodent scientist who has spent his 30-year career studying mammals.
Corrigan noted that the # 2 ranking might as well belong to any major city in the eastern megalopolis. However, Boston is a “near-perfect” home for rats and mice, he said. It is a port city with an old infrastructure and “decaying” underground sewers. Combine that with the bustling shops, restaurants, and parks, all of which are full of grocery junk, and you get essentially rat heaven.
“When you have a lot to eat like they do in Boston Common, all those garbage bins … all covered in food trash,” Corrigan said, “rats can produce the maximum number of young.”
A well-fed female rat can produce up to 12 pups in one litter. In eight to twelve weeks, these pups will become sexually mature and can reproduce. Pregnancy in rats lasts about three weeks.
“If you sit down with these numbers and do it for a whole year … you will say, ‘Oh my god,'” he said.
In addition, rat populations are growing rapidly around the world, likely in part due to climate change, Corrigan said.
“Rats don’t hibernate,” Corrigan said. In order to survive the cold winter months and to retain as much heat-generating body mass as possible, they interrupt reproduction. However, as the winters get warmer, there is no need for the breeding break. “What are rats doing around the world? They have babies in the middle of winter, ”Corrigan said, adding“ logarithmic addition ”to an already sizeable population.
John Bozarjian, owner of B&B Pest Control, a pest control company with locations throughout the greater Boston area, also noted the impact of warm winters on the area’s rodent population.
“In the past, mice and rats were not seen in winter. These warmer winters that we have, the natural selection, the kind of natural imitation of rats and mice, that doesn’t happen, ”Bozarjian said. “This freezer that we got earlier would kill half of the rodents anyway, but since it’s warmer, they not only don’t die, they also breed more.”
Population growth and the new developments that go with it can also be to blame. Years of development, built on old structures, have filled the city’s foundations with old pipes and wood, creating a “rat world” under our feet, Corrigan said.
“Someone comes in to rejuvenate the neighborhood or is building a new huge office building, he is upgrading an area and tearing down an old building that is no longer usable. Well, often … they are allowed to leave abandoned infrastructures, ”Corrigan said. “That means you can leave the old pipes lying around and simply put new pipes next to them.”
Because Boston’s buildings and homes are so densely packed, it can be difficult to keep rats and mice from moving into even a pristine living space, Bozarjian said.
“You could do anything on your side to make sure there weren’t any rats in your yard, but the houses in the South End, South Boston are right on top of each other,” he said.
In 2020, Boston saw a surge in complaints from rodents, of which city inspection services spokeswoman Lisa Timberlake said in an email that this “may have been due in part to the pandemic that forced many people to do more.” being at home”. This creates a large amount of garbage that has not been properly cared for. ”
There were a total of 1,145 complaints in 2020, compared to 1,002 in 2019. According to Timberlake, there have been 923 complaints so far this year.
Bozarjian said after his experience that the city seems to be taking the rodent problem seriously.
“Boston has always been quite proactive, especially in identifying landlords who are not caring about the problem on their property,” Bozarjian said.
The city’s inspection services department has 14 licensed inspectors with plans to add more soon, Timberlake said. In Boston, all construction sites must control a rodent infestation before they can get a building permit, and must submit a pest control plan and pass a pest inspection. All businesses in the city with excessive waste must obtain a license or risk fines of up to $ 1,000, according to Timberlake’s email.
However, even a strong response from the city may not be enough to keep living things away from people’s homes.
“Often times, when these rodent problems the city is facing, not all of the staff is on deck,” Bozarjian said. “If everyone doesn’t do their part, it will be a struggle to get rid of them.”
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