City life brings a lot of things. Traffic, people, jobs, growth, and a “rat race” of sorts. I’m not talking just metaphorically either. Big cities often harbor rodents. I’ve been fairly lucky that even visiting numerous large cities and having lived in the city my entire life, I only really remember seeing a rat on the street once. That was in Boston. I haven’t encountered any in North Carolina and for that, I’m very thankful. But they must be here. Orkin just released its yearly rattiest cities list and North Carolina was certainly represented on this list.

The state had 3 (the three largest) cities make the top 50 rankings. That’s not quite as surprising at the large jumps that every single North Carolina city made. The largest jump of any city nationwide went to one NC city that just debuted on the list. But that’s not all, another NC city saw a jump of 16 spots the second highest. And both the other North Carolina city and the only South Carolina one on the list also saw large jumps aka more rats.

So where exactly does this list come from? Pest Control specialists Orkin releases the data yearly which is based on the number of new rodent treatments performed in each city that year. For the sake of the list, the year includes treatments performed from September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023. It includes treatments performed at residential and commercial properties.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of the rattiest cities in North Carolina as well as the top 5 nationwide. In case you know, you were thinking of relocating. This may sway that decision. You can read the full study from Orkin here. Maybe these treatments will work and next year we can see a new trend of falling in this list!

  • The Top 5 Rattiest Cities

    Rats are in the trash to eat. Stinky and damp. Selective focus.

    According to Orkin

  • 5. San Francisco, CA

    Classic panoramic view of San Francisco skyline with famous Oakland Bay Bridge illuminated in beautiful golden evening light at sunset in summer, San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

    San Francisco is a city I have fond memories of, though the rumour mill is that it has gotten significantly dirtier in the past decade or so. It held steady at 5th place, the same ranking as last year.

  • 4. Washington, DC

    Washington, D.C. skyline with highways and monuments.

    Another city that didn’t change in the rankings. Washington DC, our nation’s capital, is the 4th rattiest city in the country. Perhaps we may want to work on that, not the best look!

  • 3. New York City

    New York City, NYC, USA

    NYC the good news is you’ve moved from 2nd to 3rd on this list. New York is a city I love to visit,  but could never live in. Well the only part I think I would live in I will never in a million years be able to afford. It’s known for a lot of things, but cleanliness is not one of them. Hopefully this is a trend in the right direction though.

  • 2. Los Angeles, CA

    Los Angeles city skyline and Griffith Observatory at sunset, California

    Los Angeles and New York switched places this year. If one goes down another must go up. Two California cities in the top 5 is a little concerning.

  • 1. Chicago

    Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape, Illinois, USA

    And the rattiest city in the country, for at least the second year in a row- Chicago. It’s on the short list to visit but remind me to keep an eye out when walking!

  • North & South Carolina's Rattiest Cities

    Red Thumbtack Over South Carolina State USA Map. 3D rendering

    North Carolina earned 3 cities on this list, while South Carolina had just one.

  • 50. Greensboro, NC


    The biggest jump of any city on this was Greensboro, NC. The city makes it debut in the top 50 jumping a whopping 17 spots from last year’s rankings. What happened Greensboro?

  • 32. Greenville-Spartangburg, SC

    Greenville South Carolina SC Skyline Aerial at Sunset.

    The only SC city on this list is the metro area of Greenville Spartanburg. Greenville especially has become a very desirable vacation and living destination. But I guess people aren’t the only one’s flocking to the area- it jumped 10 spots from last year’s list.

  • 23. Raleigh-Durham, NC

    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown skyline

    What is with every NC city making significant jumps on this list? Raleigh is no different jumping 8 spots to number 23. But they aren’t the rattiest city in North Carolina.

  • 21. Charlotte, NC

    Charlotte Skyline From Helicopter

    That title goes to Charlotte the rattiest city in the Carolinas. And yes, Charlotte jumped 16 spots in this year’s rankings. There must be something in the water in North Carolina, something that needs to go!

  • Signs You Have A Rodent Infestation

    AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 14: Rats at the Beaumont St Auckland waterfront take a look around before venturing too far in their quest for food.

    According to Orkin signs including seeing droppings or naw marks, a nest or hearing strange noises. This can often be in an attic.

  • Tips To Avoid Unwanted Rodent Guests

    MARIKINA, PHILIPPINES - SEPTEMBER 15: A rat captured by a resident for cash is locked in a cage waiting to be disposed of by city sanitation officers at the City Environmental Management Office (CEMO) on September 15, 2022 in Marikina, Metro Manila, Philippines. The local government of Marikina City, a suburb east of Manila, is offering money to residents in exchange for catching rodents as part of a "Rat To Cash" program in a bid to curb the spread Leptospirosis, a water-borne illness spread by rats through their urine, which is common during the country's rainy season. Residents are paid up to 200 Philippine pesos (US$ 3.50) for each rodent they bring whether dead or alive. Latest data from the Philippines' Department of Health showed the country recorded 1,770 leptospirosis cases from January to August this year, 36 percent higher than the cases logged in the same period last year.

    Keeping your home clean is a big one. Make sure any food is put away and out of reach of the rodents and declutter so they don’t have a place to live. Also keep an eye on your home for signs and look for possible entry points.

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