The recent news regarding the uptick in rat sightings all around New York had us thinking: what resources does the city provide us with when it comes to our neighboring rodents? Turns out, there are quite a few! There's an entire rat information portal maintained by the city that highlights up-to-date rat inspection results and follow-up actions through an interactive map.
You can search by address, borough, block, lot number or neighborhood and look up specific rat inspection history. Fair warning: browsing through the map has given us the actual shivers.
Although plenty of blocks seem to have "passed at last inspection," there is a whole swath of the city where rodents were spotted during an inspection. Specifically, the Lower East Side and the East Village are looking particularly horrifying. Feel free to interact with the tool right here (at your own risk).
Although rats are clearly part and parcel of New York living, there are, indeed, some things we can all do to minimize our encounters with the creatures. According to the official city site, "rats seek out places to live that provide them with everything they need to survive: food, water, shelter and safe ways for them to get around." In order to keep them out, we've got to "make life more difficult for" them. How so? Clean up! Store garbage in containers with fitting lids, for example, and keep landscaped areas around your property free of tall weeds.
If you do see one (or four) of the little scoundrels, do not despair—you're not the only one who has noticed an uptick in sightings. As the New York Times reports, "there [have] been more than 21,000 rat sightings reported to 311 this year, compared with 15,000 in the same period in 2019 (and about 12,000 in 2014)." That is to say: there ARE more rats around town and we are catching them roam around the city freely.
If you're wondering why, here's a bit of an explanation: back when restaurants were forced to close indefinitely during the pandemic, rats had to look for food elsewhere—including the street corners filled with trash that kept piling up as the Sanitation Department's budget was cut. Once the city opened back up for outdoor dining, so did construction efforts, which, according to the paper of record "drive rats into the open." Add to that a wet summer, warming climate and the fact that "inspectors who typically hunt for evidence of rats were assigned elsewhere, including to mass vaccination sites" and you've got a clear recipe for a rat utopia.
Alas, this is New York, where we roll with the punches—whether they be subway delays or scurrying little creatures inside train cars and, well, our homes—so if you do catch a rat, just smile and move on with your day.