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Have you met your neighbors? Their names are Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus, and metro Atlanta is teeming with them.
Jason Field spied the problem as soon as he pulled into the driveway. The vents to the crawlspace of the 1950s Avondale Estates bungalow were covered by old metal grates with holes as round as his thumb. Then he ambled closer. There, on the green ledge beneath the vent—dark rub marks. This is where the rats got in.
In some cases, placement on the list is rooted in ancient history; Deshnoke, India, for instance, is home to a temple where rats are worshipped. In Atlanta, on the other hand, the staggering rat population is due to a more recent event: the Great Recession. According to Animal Planet, an already high rate of urban poverty, combined with rampant foreclosures, has left an excess of abandoned buildings here, attracting droves of vermin. Rats thrive in overgrown lawns and derelict structures. If this isn’t the beginning of a real-world The Walking Dead, then perhaps the list can at least draw our attention to the ecological effects of prolonged urban abandonment.