Temperatures have been so brutal, that even Chicago’s rats, normally a resilient bunch, are freezing to death, according to several folks who’ve encountered the unlucky rodents.
Tyler Thompson, a 28-year-old Wicker Park resident, said he saw a small lifeless rat at the base of his apartment building’s outdoor stairway near the garage when he was taking out the trash on Thursday night.
The rat did not move when Thompson poked it with a branch from a dead houseplant on the nearby patio, and then, thinking quickly, he grabbed a broom from the kitchen.
“My first thought or reaction was that I didn’t want my roommate’s girlfriend’s dog to see the rat. She was about to take her dog for a walk and would be going down the stairs,” Thompson said.
Thompson used the broom and the branch to roll the rat’s corpse onto the broom’s thick bristles.
He walked slowly down the gangway to the garbage bins in the alley and dropped the rat into one of the bins.
“Now that I think of it, he deserved a more proper burial,” Thompson said, jokingly.
Bucktown resident Michael Hulburt came across a frozen dead rat in the sidewalk in the 2000 block of North Winchester Street last week while walking his family’s dog, a female hound mix.
“I happened to see it on the sidewalk. [The dog] just walked right past it without acknowledging it. She was more interested in the dog urine in the snow on the other side of the sidewalk,” Hulburt said.
Janelle Iaccino, an Uptown resident and spokeswoman for Rose Pest Solutions, which has a city office in Wicker Park, said she has personally seen several frozen rats while walking around her neighborhood.
“The dead ones are dangerous to have around, if you think of rodents as a vector of disease, which they are. It’s scary when you think about dogs walking in alleys, if a dog puts the frozen rat in its mouth and thinks it’s a toy, now you have to take the dog to the vet,” Iaccino said.
Iaccino said she has been photographing the dead rats and uploading them to the free app, Seeclickfix, which tags the location and sends the upload to the Streets and Sanitation Department.
Marjani Williams, a department spokeswoman, urged residents who stumble upon dead rats to dial 311.
“If you find a dead rodent and need to move it immediately, please do not touch it: use a shovel or broom to move it to your black garbage cart and DSS will dispose of it properly,” Williams said.