Chicago made the top of Orkin Pest Control’s "Top Rattiest Cities List" in both 2014 and 2016 (our moms must be so proud). This is old information to anyone who has been living here for a while. The rodent epidemic is not a new problem. But not only does it NOT seem to be getting better, all indications point to the possibility that it’s actually getting worse. As our beloved mayor would begrudgingly admit.
Why is it that we used to do okay and now all of a sudden over the last few years the problem has gotten to be so out of control? At this point I do NOT want to hear about all of the fancy ways the City is proposing to address the problem (dry ice, birth control to include sterilization and chemical castration, 'hot sauce' trash cans, etc.). These plans are important and I do want them to go forward. But in the spirit of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," I don't really want to hear about how much money the City is throwing at this problem today. My question is how did we get to this point in the first place???
I try not to lean toward political paranoia and crazy theories, but when I hear that the City tried to secretly cut funding for special education students to save a few dollars AND THEY THOUGHT NO ONE WOULD NOTICE, then it makes me more willing to give a side-eye about other suspicious situations.
The rodent overpopulation issue affects the quality of life for Chicagoans in general but it affects property owners in particular because you wouldn’t believe how destructive these little bastards can be. It’s no secret that if these persistent pests get inside a structure they can do anything from spreading disease to chewing through water lines to cause flooding or through wiring to create a fire hazard. But even if you have the skills to keep them at bay internally they can also cause a lot of expensive outdoor damage.
The rodent population has become so large and the city has become so overrun that the little critters are doing some apparently uncharacteristic things. Things we are not used to which boggle our minds, like breaking their nocturnal routines (they publicly scamper around the clock now), setting up shop much closer to people, living in trees, and (my favorite) BURROWING UNDER CONCRETE.
So, yes, you can turn your home into a fortress. You can coat your living structure in a protective titanium shell that cannot be penetrated by any living creature who is unable to use facial recognition software to unlock the front door. But guess what? While you and your family are inside that titanium house peeking out the tempered glass windows, what you just might see are these little miscreants burrowing under concrete and turning your sidewalks into Swiss cheese.
And don’t look for tell-tale signs like piles of dirt. Nope. They don’t scoop the dirt out. My guess is that they hard-pack it to fortify their tunnels. The effect is so much upward pressure that the force breaks up the concrete from underneath. It is insane and I have never seen or heard of anything like this. You might have seen the effects of it before, too, but maybe you had no idea of what you were looking at. Or the self-protective region of your brain WOULD NOT ALLOW YOU TO FACE THE HORROR OF WHAT WAS GOING ON UNDER YOUR FEET!
So, yes, as a Chicago resident you were prepared for the garbage tax, the bag tax, the pop tax, the jelly bean tax, SMS text tax, the capri pants tax, etc. But I bet you didn’t know you would be paying to replace your sidewalk every few years because someone—maybe—decided to skim off the rodent control budget a while back to save a few bucks. Because no one would ever find out, right? Who could it hurt? Let ME find the person who made that boneheaded decision (theoretically). Because the City will never tell.
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