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Rats! D.C. is seeing more rat complaints than in the past, report says

Check how your neighborhood compares to others

A rate pokes its head out of a hole at a construction site in D.C.’s Park View neighborhood.
A rat at a construction site in Park View (2017)
The Washington Post/Getty Images

If you feel like you’ve noticed a growing number of rats in the nation’s capital over the past few years, you’re not alone. Rat complaints to the city’s 311 system have gone up each year since 2016, according to a new report from listings company RentHop, making the District the only city among the five major cities RentHop examined to see an uptick in complaints.

From 2016 to 2017, the amount of official rat complaints in D.C. rose 50 percent, to 5,310. It also increased 7.6 percent from 2018 to 2019, to 5,715 complaints—representing an average of 83.6 complaints per square mile of the city. And thus far in 2019, the District’s 311 system has registered 3,385 rat complaints, or 9 percent more than it did during the same period in 2017. The other four cities RentHop studied were New York, Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago.

The company says it did not observe any correlation between the number of rat complaints and the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C., as it observed in other cities like Boston and Baltimore. “Nor did we see any clusters related to high or low rents,” it explains.

Over the past couple of years, Mayor Muriel Bowser has refocused the city’s rodent control efforts, including by conducting neighborhood walkthroughs that her office has called “rat walks.” Officials say warmer winters in D.C. have contributed to the rise in rats complaints.

Meanwhile, RentHop additionally put together a list of “rodent-infested” neighborhoods as well as those in which rat complaints have either spiked or decreased. A map follows below.

These Neighborhoods are Rodent-Infested

Columbia Heights, [Mount] Pleasant, Pleasant Plains, Park View – 741 rat complaints in 2017, 757 in 2018, 384.2 average yearly complaints per [square mile]

Shaw, Logan Circle – 319 rat complaints in 2017, 244 in 2018, 313.1 average yearly complaints per [square mile]

Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue/K Street – 321 rat complaints in 2017, 285 in 2018, 232.4 average yearly complaints per [square mile]

Howard University, Le Droit Park, Cardozo/Shaw – 259 rat complaints in 2017, 245 in 2018, 228.1 average yearly complaints per [square mile]

Brightwood Park, Crestwood, Petworth – 648 rat complaints in 2017, 692 in 2018, 161.1 average yearly complaints per SqMi [square mile]

Rodent complaints spike the most in these neighborhoods

North Cleveland Park, Forest Hills, Van Ness – 2 rat complaints in 2017, 6 in 2018 (+200%)

National Mall, Potomac River – 6 rat complaints in 2017, 17 in 2018 (+183%)

Douglas, Shipley Terrace – 12 rat complaints in 2017, 32 in 2018 (+167%)

Spring Valley, Palisades, Wesley Heights, Foxhall Crescent, Foxhall Village, Georgetown Reservoir – 19 rat complaints in 2017, 30 in 2018 (+138%)

North Michigan Park, Michigan Park, University Heights – 52 rat complaints in 2017, 102 in 2018 (+96%)

Rodent complaints dropped the most in these neighborhoods

Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, North Portal Estates – 11 rat complaints in 2017, 7 in 2018 (-36%)

Friendship Heights, American University Park, Tenleytown -26 rat complaints in 2017, 17 in 2018 (-35%)

Fairfax Village, Naylor Gardens, Hillcrest, Summit Park – 10 rat complaints in 2017, 7 in 2018 (-30%)

Takoma, Brightwood, Manor Park – 149 rat complaints in 2017, 106 in 2018 (-29%)

Shaw, Logan Circle – 319 rat complaints in 2017, 244 in 2018 (-24%)”