Just Your Average Infestation: Despite Fears, No More NYC Street Rats Than Normal Since Sandy

By Ashley P. Taylor | November 1, 2012 10:53 am

subway rats

Ratpocolypse, flood of rats, the ra(p)ture…Ever since Hurricane Sandy flooded New York City’s subway systems, reporters have been waxing biblical as they wonder: what happened to all the rodents who once scampered and snacked in New York City’s tunnels? People aren’t sure how many rats there were to begin with—28 to 32 million, perhaps—but though many may have died in the storm, people expected to see swarms of them appearing on the street after the storm, feasting on tasty, soggy storm debris. So far, New Yorkers seem to have been spared that sight.

Reporters have tried to reconstruct the rat hurricane experience: When the storm hit, city rats could have been safe deep underground in their burrows, far below the level where water can seep, but many were probably out looking for food, which brought them into the subway tunnels. The flood probably drowned babies and weaker rats in the tunnels and drove others to the streets. Yet the anticipated rat-rush has not come yet; Sam Miller, assistant commissioner for public affairs at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told New York Magazine that they have not seen an increase in street rats.

And that’s a relief, since—New Yorkers, let’s be honest—the above-ground rat complement during normal times is already substantial.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World
  • Georg

    When the storm hit, city rats could have been safe deep underground in their burrows, far below the level where water can seep,

    What a nonsense!

  • Magoonski

    @ Georg It’s not nonsense. Think of an upside down glass in a sink. If the entrance to the burrow was equal to or above the burrow then yes it would flood, but if the opening was below the burrow then the air pressure in the burrow would keep the water at bay (assuming the burrow is air tight). Now assuming they didn’t suffocate from a build up of carbon dioxide, the rats would be fine. As for the seepage, who knows how many man made structures there are that block water from reaching the water table.

  • floodmouse

    Should have fitted out the rats with those little web-cam collars you can buy for your cat in pet stores . . .

  • Pippa

    #3 – floodrat cam?

  • http://Thankyou.ThatisgoodnewsbecausetheRayswon'tbepressuredintohavingtomakeatradeliketheydidwithJasonHammel Isabella Rikard

    This is BAD news for Obama. When things get this far out of control, people tend to vote for change if they can even make it to the polling station.
    Look for Obama to CANCEL the elections due to “National Emergency”.

  • groverpm

    @ Isabella. It’s 11:30 am on the East Coast and I’ve yet to hear that the election has been cancelled.

    @Discover magazine – I’d have thought what happened to all the people who live in the NY tunnel system would have made a better story.

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