City Paper tried to make a Rat Map. We looked at all the times that residents called 311 to enlist the services of Baltimore’s Rat Rubout crew between February 2, 2015, when the record of calls in the city’s database began, and June 16, 2016, when the record ends. But it was too much. We were overwhelmed. In trying to document the 148,891 calls for help, the pinpoints on our map would blend and blur into a giant, Baltimore City-shaped blob of people requesting rodent eradication.
These requests come on the heels of an August 31, 2015 press release from the Baltimore City Department of Public Works announcing a “Bigger, Faster Rat Rubout Crew Takes to the Alleys” and noting that its 16 technicians were inspecting and treating every alley in the city on a 20-day rotation. “The 20-day cycle is designed to interrupt the three-week gestation period of Norway rats, which have become a nuisance in and around the City,” the Department of Public Works explained. “The idea is to make the battle against vermin more proactive and coordinated, and less reactive to citizen complaints.”
But the complaints keep rolling in.
In the end, City Paper scaled back our ambitious attempt to map all 148,891 rat-related calls and settled on pinpointing a more manageable week’s worth of complaints. Between June 9 and June 16, operators logged the 1,433 rat-related calls you see on the above map. (Karen Houppert)