Now that warmer springtime weather has more residents out in their yards, city officials say complaints about rats are on the rise in Evanston — although not beyond levels typically seen in other years.

Carl Caneva, the city’s assistant health director, says the city now has 70 open requests for service — higher than in the winter — but less than during the summer — when there can be as many as 100 active cases.

Not only are people out more — but rats are more active — burrowing to create new homes for themselves.

Caneva says the city tries to get out in front of rat problems by mapping the areas where complaints have come from in the past and sending inspectors down alleys in those neighborhoods. “We want to make sure that garbage is well secured, and garages are in good condition — with no large holes where rodents could find a way inside,” Caneva says.

Caneva says residents can make their property less attractive to rats by not putting out food for pets or birds and not providing water sources. Even cleaning up after pets is important — rats are omnivores, Caneva said, they’ll eat anything to survive. More rat control advice is available on the city’s website.

Residents can report rat complaints to the city’s 311 service.

Once complaints come in, Caneva says, the city works with a private contractor to go out weekly and place bait stations on private property and in the alleys.

To do any work on private property, the city needs a signed release form from the property owner. The rat control service is provided at no charge to residential properties.

Caneva says city inspectors try to make sure residents with rat problems are educated about how to improve conditions on their property to get rid of rats, but in the event of non-compliance it does have an enforcement process and can issue citations, which, if they aren’t responded to, can lead to hearings in the city’s administrative adjudication process where fines can be issued.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Feeders Beware

    Some of the rodent problem is caused by people who mistakenly believe that only birds will eat the breadcrumbs they leave out on the parkway.

    1. I hate rats
      Anyone who stores their garbage outside in plastic bags contributes to the problem of rats. So do folks who leave dog/cat food dishes out for their outdoor pets.

  2. Rat Problem

    I notice quite often when I walk by and alley way that  the multi family trash is fallling out of the dumpsters. Walk by some of the parks and trash isn't picked up for weeks (and when its picked up they don't pick up around the cans). Now we have the fancy trash cans with open tops and another like the residental ones. Still trash laying around the cans.

    When plastic bags are taken away in a few months the rats and other rodents will have a feast. 

    1. Rats and 311

      If you see trash falling out of dumpsters and trash that is not picked up in the parks please call 311 and report. Also, contact your alderperson and let them know that you put in a 311 request. 311 is very responsive in my experience. 

      1. The last time I called 311

        The last time I called 311 about this problem several days later two additional trash cans were added to a park thats  50'x75'. Trash was left.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *