General Question

_Whitetigress's avatar

So do a lot of rats die in NYC during hurricane season or do they flee?

Asked by _Whitetigress (4372points) November 1st, 2012

Any juicy information on this?

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22 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Haha…well…I don’t know, but I assume some die, yes, of course.
I DO know that there are rat fanciers that raise and sell wild NYC rats bred with domestics as hybridized pets.
I am sure the cities rat population will not be decimated. Rats breed like rats you know. lol

Buttonstc's avatar

Funny you should ask. I was watching one of the news programs showing the aftermath in various parts of the city, and they pointed out that one of the positive things to come out of the hurricane was killing all the rats in the subway tunnels.

Accompanying footage of loads of piles of dead rats strewn about followed.

They were more than just decimated; likely at least half or more of the rat population was killed off I’m guessing. I’m assuming that those tunnels flooded so fast when the water rose that they were caught totally by surprise with no time to flee.

But that’s just below ground in the miles and miles of tunnels. I’m sure that there are plenty still left hanging around above ground busy feasting on garbage cans :)

…and eventually replenishing their numbers. How lovely.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was thinking the same thing. And much as I hate them, at least the wild ones, I was feeling sorry for them. I don’t think anyone warned them about the danger.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well hate is a pretty strong word, but I really don’t like them. I had 2 of them back me down one time walking near the asphalt factory there at about 88th and York.

ETpro's avatar

Rats and other wildlife are more vulnerable to natural disasters than we humans are. They don’t have radios, TVs and the Internet to warn them of approaching threats. They never get the evacuation orders. They can swim a ways, but aren’t great swimmers. And if they get trapped, as the subway dwellers did, there is no escape.

Take a look at this poor deer caught in the storm’s surf in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. Onlookers actually jumped in and helped pull the animal to safety after it suffered a broken leg being tossed against the rocks.

jca's avatar

I saw the footage of dead rats in the subway – fat (not sure how much of their fatness was from being fat, and how much was was from being dead and bloated by water) upside down, dead. Gross but still kind of sad for them. Like @Buttonstc said, they’re going to repopulate soon enough!

bolwerk's avatar

There are lots of articles about this floating about. The consensus is there is no way to know how many died, but probably a lot. The most vulnerable were likely nesting mothers.

Of course, many probably were driven to the surface too.

glacial's avatar

@Buttonstc Oh thanks, now I have this song stuck in my head.

I don’t know how “good” the news is that so many rats are lying around dead. That has to be a health hazard – I hope they get on top of the cleanup quickly.

LostInParadise's avatar

I wonder what percent of the rat population was affected. Even if it is a significant portion, I give the rats a year to return to the previous numbers.

bolwerk's avatar

I’d give them a few months. A single rat can have a half dozen litters a year.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yeah, the survivors will have PLENTY of food to feast on with all the overturned garbage cans and tons of garbage floating through the streets.

So expect a bumper crop of rats coming soon :)


Unfortunately it won’t play on iPhone but I’m assuming it was “The Circle of Life” since that’s what the title said. Not necessarily such a bad song to have floating in your head.

Wasn’t that done by Elton John? Not such a shabby composer really :)

bolwerk's avatar

There is less waste than usual, @Buttonstc, for now. At least less organic waste.

Coloma's avatar

Well…personally I happen to really admire rats. They get a bad rap and obviously thousands of them invading homes is not what anyone would wish to deal with. However, from a purely factual standpoint, they are highly intelligent, resilient, clever, resourceful and have excellent memories. Their intelligence rivals that of pigs and dogs and they live in complex societies.

They also, for the most part, do not carry as much disease as people think.
The highest risks of illness would be from salmonella and perhaps hepatitis, but ONLY for those animals living and feeding in extremely filthy conditions. Rats prefer good food and clean living as much as any other species, just that they are forced to subsist in certain less than stellar environments.

Rats that live in rural settings lead very clean lives, eating fruits, nuts, insects, birds eggs and various grains etc. They are more like squirrels in a healthy environment.
I once kept a baby roof rat or Black Rat I found abandoned in a field. ” BB” was a very cool and clever little guy and he lived the high rat life for 3 years with me. He was a great little experimental pet and a veritable houdini that could literally run up the walls. lol
Rats are really very amazing little animals.

RareDenver's avatar

Don’t fancy cleaning up all them dead rats. Can’t just leave them to rot can they?

Coloma's avatar

Someone should freeze them all and send them out to wildlife rescues that need rodents to feed rehabbing raptors.

laureth's avatar

I believe this article is relevant here.

_Whitetigress's avatar

@laureth Damn, they were just built & engineered for NYC!

LostInParadise's avatar

Did you read the part that says there may be more rats in New York than people? Gives a new meaning to the term rat race. Who exactly are the residents of New York? From the rat perspective it would be them, with all these nice people supplying them with food.

bolwerk's avatar

More rodents than people is probably fairly typical in a human settlement. Most things that are higher on the food chain tend to have lower populations than things further down, all things being equal.

LostInParadise's avatar

True, but I never thought of New York as being an ecosystem.

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma Me too. I had a pet white rat that was very intelligent and loving.

jca's avatar

If New York City’s residents were to be counted, I’m sure there are way more roaches and bedbugs than humans.

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