Spend some time in New York City, and you’re bound to glimpse a rat – or a bunch of them – scurrying about the subway tracks, rummaging around in a heap of curb-trash, or nervously attempting to abscond with a slice of pizza. Now that July is upon us, sightings are about to escalate once again.
An INSIDER analysis of a decade of 311 (the city’s complaint line) data from New York City and Chicago found that July and August are the peak months for city residents to complain about rats each year. It’s a time when rat pups are weaning from their mothers and taking to the streets – and when humans are spending more time outside, tossing more food waste and inadvertently supplying an all-you-can-eat buffet for rodents.
In New York City, rat sightings reported to 311 have nearly doubled over the course of five years, rising by 80% between 2012 and 2017, when service requests topped out at nearly 20,000. “Essentially, the rat has no struggle whatsoever finding food in every direction – in bags, litter, in the gutter, in park baskets,” said Bobby Corrigan, a rodent scientist who consults for New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Estimating rat populations is notoriously tricky – and 311 data is only one piece of the puzzle – but Corrigan has surveyed city commissioners and pest control specialists from Boston to Seattle, and he believes they’re on the rise everywhere. For both New York City and Chicago, INSIDER found that rat-related service requests peaked in July 2017.
Corrigan spent three years as a pest exterminator while saving up for college in the late ’70s, before rats ruled the city. “It’s nothing like it is now,” he said. “In the past 50 years, the rats have just exploded in New York City, and they continue to increase.”
Corrigan told INSIDER that he believes the city is responding well, citing $32 million plan New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in 2017 to combat the impending ratpocalypse.
The plan, which was designed to decrease rat activity by 70%, emphasized better trash management and enforcement for rat violations. The number of rat complaints ebbed slightly in 2018 – but only by 9% compared to the previous year, INSIDER found.
Access to garbage isn’t the only problem either. It’s also that rats are also spawning more offspring. Rats don’t typically reproduce in the winter when their litters are vulnerable to freezing temperatures – but milder temperatures have changed the way that they breed.
Corrigan and other rodentologists believe that one more litter is being produced each year due to repeating warmer winters. “One more litter per female is ten pups. You have logarithmic growth on top of what was already fast growth,” he said.
“Globally, this planet is warming up, and species like rats are saying ‘thank you.'”
This article was originally sourced from here.