Rat sightings in New York City have jumped 38% as a construction boom sends the rodents scurrying from their burrows, according to The New York Times.
Rat sightings reported to the city soared nearly 38% to 17,353 last year from 12,617 in 2014, The New York Times said. In the same period, the number of times city health inspections found active signs of rats nearly doubled.
This is how reporter Winnie Hu described it: “So many rats regularly lurk on a sidewalk in Brooklyn that it is the humans who avoid the rats, not the other way around. Not even cars are safe: Rats have chewed clean through engine wires.”
For an interactive data visualization from Open the Books, a transparency advocacy group, click here and watch the rat sightings load up until it’s a just a blur of black pin icons.
The top spot for rat sighting has been the Upper West Side, one of Manhattan’s most affluent zip codes, followed by four Brooklyn neighborhoods: Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Ocean Hill.
“I’m a former Marine so I’m not going to be squeamish, but this is bad,” Pablo Herrera, a 58-year-old mechanic who has counted up to 30 rats while walking the length of his block in Prospect Heights, told the Times.
New York added 36,000 new housing units in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a small city in some parts of the country. It was a gain of 184 units compared with the year prior, according to New York City’s Department of Buildings data.
Comedian Stephen Colbert put a quintessential New York spin on the NYT’s rat story by pretending to call 311, the city’s non-emergency number, on Thursday’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Mimicking a panicked caller, he said:
“Hello, 311? Oh, thank God, I’d like to report a rat. Also, I saw a puddle of murky water even though it hasn’t rained in days. Additionally, a cab driver was a little curt with me. Are you writing this down? There’s a bad smell coming from the sewer!”