Menace to society

Which urban pest is more disgusting-rats or rats with wings?


Population Unlike actual rats, these so-called rats with wings aren’t counted by the city.

Reside in Ledges, under bridges and on window air-conditioner units

Diseases carried Though uncommon, three diseases are associated with inhalation of and other exposure to pigeon droppings: cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis (potentially fatal fungal infections), and psittacosis (a rare bacterial infection known as “parrot fever” that causes flulike symptoms).

Super-villain power Pigeon poo contains ammonia and salt; combined with rainwater, this can rust metal.

Major historical fuck-up A buildup of pigeon dung contributed to last year’s collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis; 13 people were killed and about 100 were injured.

Diet These pecking scavengers survive on human food scraps.

Lifespan Three to five years

Reproduction Able to breed throughout the year, producing as many as 12 squabs. However, city pigeons usually only breed between March and July, when the food supply is plentiful.

Attack factor Very low; pigeons generally retreat from confrontation

Most common human reaction Shooing the birds out of the way

Colloquialisms Stool pigeon (informer)

Most famous pop-culture depiction The Goodfeathers, a trio of classic-film parodying cartoon pigeons in the animated TV series Animaniacs

Cuteness With their iridescent feathers, swooping skills and docile manner, it’s not difficult to believe that pigeons are just large doves. That shit a lot.


Population Estimated at 500,000 in Chicago, down from 6 million to 7 million in the 1980s, according to the Bureau of Rodent Control, a division of the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Most are gray, plump Norway rats, (a.k.a. brown rats).

Reside in The city’s dirty nooks and crannies. These nocturnal creatures burrow beneath and along the bases of buildings near sources of food and water, as well as in and around sewers.

Diseases carried Rats can infect humans with several diseases, from simple salmonella typhimurium (caused by ingestion of food or drink contaminated with rat excrement) to rat-bite fever, an infection from a rat bite/scratch or from ingesting contaminated food or drink, that induces vomiting, joint pain and a rash.

Super-villain power Able to gnaw through materials like asphalt and wood when burrowing

Major historical fuck-up Responsible for the Black Death, the 14th-century bubonic plague-outbreak that killed one-third of Europe’s population

Diet Will eat anything, even dog feces

Lifespan Six months to one year

Reproduction Can mate a dozen times a year. The female gestation period is only about 21 days, and each litter can number up to 20, though seven is the average.

Attack factor Will bite or scratch if provoked, but typically avoid humans

Most common human reaction Shriek and involuntary jump

Colloquialisms Rat (informant); lab rat (person who makes money testing medicine); pack rat (a hoarder)

Most famous pop-culture depiction Remy, the haute-cuisine–loving rat in the 2007 Disney film Ratatouille

Cuteness Fur matted with garbage water, beady eyes, a wormlike tail—all reasons ratlike is not a compliment