New York City, NY

People emerge from the pandemic to find rats have taken over the city

Jason Weiland

Rats are opportunistic. As people hunkered down in their houses and apartments during the worst of the pandemic, the rodents came out in full force to find food, and to lay claim to this newfound territory that was suddenly free of the dreaded “people.”

According to AP News, in New York, the number of rat sightings in the city has been on a steady increase since last year, and now there are more than ever before. Through April this year they’ve received 7400 service requests relating to rats--that's up from 6150 during the comparable period last season and up 60% from the first four months of the 2019 pre-pandemic year.

There has been a significant rise in the number of rodent sightings this year, and the first four months of 2022 have been the highest recorded since 2010 when the total was 10,500 for the whole year. This is compared to 25,000 all last year.

It is debatable whether the rat population has increased, the issue could just be that because more people are going outside the rats are much more visible now.

Matt Frye, a Cornell-based pest management specialist for the state of New York, said a surge in rats “…depends on how much food is available to them and where.”

Rats have been known to be a public health concern not only because of the squeamishness of city dwellers but also for the infection of leptospirosis. Last year, at least 13 people were hospitalized — one died from the infection. One way that rats can transfer these bacteria is by urinating on or near your property (or even inside).

Rats are a problem in major cities across America, and some countries have even worse rates. It's not just that they're hungry all the time - rats can survive on less than one ounce (or 30 grams) per day! So this means these pesky creatures could be crawling around right next door or down the street from where you live.

What should New York do about this public health issue?

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