The other day I got a little sad thinking about New York City's pigeons wondering where the hell all their delicious little crumbs went. What I should have been thinking of is their ruthless, wingless counterparts beneath the sidewalks they strut on. What will the rats do without our constant flow of littering scraps?
The disruption is something of a tale of two rat cities. In some parts of New York it’s business as usual, with four-legged vermin regularly dining out as if the virus never struck. But for colonies in areas where eateries have closed and people have all but disappeared, such as Times Square's Restaurant Row, it’s slim pickings. A report by THE CITY shows that areas such as Manhattan Community Board 3—home to parts of Chinatown and the Lower East Side—saw a 5% decrease in trash tonnage, as did the Upper East Side, where many residents have fled to second homes.
Bobby Corrigan, the city’s quintessential expert on rats [no really, he's got a PhD for it], told Gothamist that with these types of closures there’s simply not enough food to go around for the current rat population.
“Food-dependent rats of commercial facilities, those rats are gonna be the ones seen during the day now, straggling about, wandering about, trying to get into spaces,” said Corrigan, adding that rats often turn on each other, going so far as eating their own young, when sustenance dries up.
“They start killing and eating each other right inside that nest,” he noted. “When things just aren’t available, and they get hungry. It’s the nearest rat that’s smaller and weaker that will be the protein.”
And if a rat colony were to take the risky step in infringing on another rodent colony’s turf—the result of an exodus from a food-depleted part of the city—expect a battle to break out.
Holy shit. I'm picturing The Godfather 2 and one big-time boss ass bitcc rat taking out all the other big time rats while she's at the christening for her rat-brother's baby rats. I'm picturing the gun battle scene in Boondock Saints, but with two-inch long incisors flying all over. THERE WAS A RAT-TOOTH FIIIIIIIGHT! And honestly from what I've seen with my own eyes, it might not be that far off.
One of the most unsettling things I've encountered on an NYC subway platform (besides the guy who stood next to me fapping his weiner as casually as if he were just checking his cell phone or reading a book)…
… is a rat with zero fucks left to give.
They zoom out from the darkness & skitter around you on a mission for the choicest crumbs & garbage available. Is that a tiny knife in its hand? Did that massive rodent just try to shank my ankle then juke me? With other people high-stepping and dodging it within a small strip between the tracks there's literally nowhere to go unless you want a little jolt from the third rail. Rats are the kings of that turf and they know it.
When I first moved to NYC I had fellowship with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce trying to assist small businesses in the Second Avenue subway construction zone. For many years, ground underneath Second Ave. from 96th St. all the way down to 65th St. was being tunneled through for an extension of the Q line - a monumental undertaking.
There was blasting and drilling daily, and apartments and businesses were cut off from the streets for over 30 blocks by a maze of fencing. This meant thousands of rats were disturbed, and when they surfaced would weasel into apartments & attack the restaurants and their new garbage patterns with a vengeance. I had to walk these streets daily to connect with hundreds of small (& understandably extremely grumpy) business owners. Nightmare fuel on many levels.
Eventually my heart stopped skipping a beat when a frustrated manager would take their rage out on me (fuuuuuuck the old guy who used to work at Pedal Pushers Bike Shop, unless something bad has happened to him since then of course, in which case he was an angel) and I soon felt nothing when a rat would traipse across my worn-down Payless flats.
But these rats still wielded SERIOUS, life-changing power. Pizza places that had been there with A ratings from the health department for decades were now getting B & C grades because of the rats. Small businesses were crumbling because no one wanted to visit an infested street… It was pretty bad for years.
SO - very long story longer…. As much as I love animals I have to say I'm not upset that the rats now have to face the same wrath they've been sending our way forever. Take each other out in your little rodent civil war for all I care. My only concern is that this will leave only the most powerful rat families who will become mega-super rats and as they grow tiny abs and muscular arms they'll be getting angrier and hungrier waiting for our return and by the time we do they'll be able to rip the shoes right off our feet and chow down on our toes. Oh my God… we're still so fucked…