New York City declares war on rats

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on May 30, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Some things are a given in New York City: Rats in subways. Parking tickets. Rats in parks. Snowstorms. Rats on dark sidewalks. Noisy neighbors.

Did we mention rats?

By some estimates, there are more rats than humans in this city of 8.4 million, although it’s impossible to know for sure. One thing is certain: Most New Yorkers loathe rats, and the city this year is budgeting $611,000 for a new program targeting “rat reservoirs,” where the rodents congregate, in hopes of diminishing their numbers.

“This is about more than just aesthetics,” said City Councilman Mark D. Levine, describing the problem as “epidemic” on some streets in his district of Upper Manhattan.

“We’ve had rats who are going into cars and eating out electrical cables. We have rats that are entering homes,” Levine said at a public hearing this month where city health officials announced the additional anti-rat efforts.

With city officials striving to present the best image of New York to visitors — and with social media making every public rat sighting a potential embarrassment — rat-abatement efforts have increased.

Transit officials have tried a rat-sterilization program in the subways, and an online map created by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene enables people to search neighborhoods, streets and even specific addresses for rat issues.

The department also offers courses at its Rodent Academy that are geared toward building superintendents, homeowners and others interested in learning how to manage the rats in their lives.

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Health experts say the brown Norway rats that thrive in New York generally do not pose a threat to humans, but that doesn’t stop people from freaking out when a fine example of Rattus norvegicus crosses their path.

A video taken last month showed subway riders wailing in distress and clambering atop seats as a rat took the A train traveling beneath the East River.

“Rat on the train!” someone hollered, but by then, the doors were closing. They didn’t open again for more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the time it took for the train to reach the next stop. A man in a suit leaped skyward, as if he were skipping rope, as the rat scurried down the center aisle.

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