When you think of cities with heavy duty rat problems, a few immediately come to mind: New York, Boston, Philadelphia and pretty much any of the older, northern cities where people have historically lived crammed together. Few ever consider the sprawling southern cities like Atlanta – but they should.
A recent study found there are amazing numbers of rats in Atlanta –that in fact, Atlanta is one of the most rat-filled cities in the nation. It’s just the latest confirmation of a rat infestation trend that’s been building here for years.
A study ranked the metro Atlanta area among the Top 20 in the country for rats, based on the number of calls. Other recent found nearly half of all Atlantans – especially residents of College Park, East Atlanta and downtown – had seen rodents in their homes. Atlanta has even been named No. 2 in the country for “rat risk” based on things like foreclosures and unemployment rate.
Atlanta is rapidly becoming “Rat-lanta” – but why are there so many rats in Atlanta?
Here are a few ideas:
1. The city makes it easy for them to live here
Back in the ‘90s, the city had a “rat attack” team to keep the rats in Atlanta at bay. But that team fell to budget cuts and since then, no single agency has stepped up to own the rat problem in the region. That means while cities like New York pump millions annually into stopping rats in their tracks, our region is stuck hoping individual counties find money to handle their respective rat issues. When neither counties or individual homeowners can fix the problem, rats thrive in Atlanta.
2. The area was hit hard by foreclosures
In the darkest throes of the most recent recession, Atlanta foreclosure rates were up to five times the national average. Foreclosures have since lowered – but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of those old empty homes have been occupied. Empty houses make perfect places for rats to live and multiply. And as long as there are plenty of these houses around, rats will have a place to stay.
3. More people live here
Cities like Chicago are usually first on the list when people think of dense urban areas. But the Atlanta area has experienced explosive growth over the last several years. In fact, between 1990 and 2010, the region averaged 77,000 new residents each year. The population growth has slowed some recently, but there are still more people, living closer together than in years gone by. More people means more trash – a magnet for rats.
It’s pretty clear that rats are taking over Atlanta. Have they gotten into your home yet?
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