New York City’s rat problem exacerbated by the pandemic?

This year New York City has a particularly bad rat problem. Sightings have rocketed with more than 12,000 complaints made to the city’s administrators hotline compared to 9,042 throughout 2019 according to the New York Post.

The pandemic has contributed to several factors which have resulted in an increase in the rat population. One of these is budget cuts at the sanitation department resulting irregular trash pick-up. Another reason is that the pandemic has kept people inside. Perhaps this has allowed the rats to be more often outside, less disturbed by human pedestrian traffic? It is also said that New Yorkers are producing more food waste. Are they eating more because of the pandemic?

NYC rats


Some people deny that the rat problem is worse this year than last. Some residents have complained that the rats are as big as cats and that parts of Central Park are awash with them at dusk scurrying between shrubs on either side of jogging tracks. However, the Central Park Conservancy claim that rodent numbers are pretty much the same as last year, and the one before that.

Ms Dubov, a graduate of the Rat Academy, a program run in New York City which provides training for professional rat catchers and amateurs who want to learn about rat management, said that one of her neighbours described to her “unbelievable rat activity at 3 am”.

Another resident, Joe Kepferle, 49, said that he was walking his Boston terrier, Benji, when he noticed noise in the bushes which caught his dog’s attention. Joe was having difficulty in keeping his dog away from the rats because they are bred to hunt them. Joe tries to keep his dog away because they are diseased, he said.

The picture painted in The Times newspaper is of a city with an infestation of cat-sized rats scurrying hither and thither under the feet of New Yorkers. I don’t think it’s quite that bad but it’s worse than the previous year judging by the number of complaints.

I think they need an army of cats to deter them.