‘”Oh, Rats!” No, it is not an expression Charlie Brown says. It is a real problem in New York
City. That’s right! One of the most visited cities by tourists in the world has a huge Westchester rat problem.
They are everywhere. A photo of a rat pulling a piece of cheese pizza down the subway steps even went
viral in 2015! Rats are mostly nocturnal, so sightings during the day are few, except if you are in
the subway. And they like staying outside or underground like at the subway again. This means the
likelihood of having a rat in an upstairs apartment is almost none existent. However, anywhere there
is trash, there will be New York rats.
This presents a huge health hazard for the city of New York. In the mid-1300’s, Europe was decimated by what was to become known as the Black Death. Unfortunately, this was not a rock group, but the bubonic plague. The plague was caused by the bite of infected fleas. And those fleas just happened to live on; you guessed it, rats. More than 20 million people across Europe died. The really scary thing is that the bubonic plague still exists and it is still spread by the fleas that live on Westchester rats.
The rats multiply fast because they reach adulthood at 2 or 3 months age. Each female rat can have a litter of up to 7 pups. They eat anything and, besides the bubonic plague, can spread other diseases such as E. coli and Salmonella. Yet, no one really knows what can be done to stop the problem. Fighting the New York rat problem is a way of life for the New York officials in charge of the problem. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is trying to keep the subway stations clean by encouraging subway riders to throw away their trash when they get to the street and trying out Westchester rat-resistant trash cans. The MTA also set traps and the New York Health department has even set up a “rat hotline” in the form of an app. They get a lot of reported sightings.
So New York City continues to fight the war that they have been fighting for decades, trying to make the city streets cleaner, safer and as rat-free as possible. They dismantle nests and colonies where the Westchester rats live, but the battle continues. Two million rats is less than was estimated, but they still cause a big problem for New Yorkers.
Visit our Westchester wildlife control home page to learn more about us.