The Rat Dispersal Ratastrophe: Everything You Need To Know About New York City’s Imminent Rat Disaster

by • November 2, 2012 • Health, Nature, Random NewsComments (0)6947

Gruesome stories and discoveries continue to emerge form the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and her path of destruction around New Jersey and New York.  With all the focus on the Jersey Shore, Hoboken, and the 100+ decimated homes in Queens, the people of Staten Island have been nearly overlooked completely.  They have no food, no water, and dead bodies continue to be pulled out from the borough.  You can watch Ann Curry’s report from Staten Island below.

But there is a new worry beginning to emerge that is familiar to most New Yorkers; however this time it will be taking on a scale that the city has never seen before.  Beneath the city of New York lies the longest, oldest, and most complex system of tunnels in all of North America.  And filling these tunnels is a massive population of rats, with estimates there are as many as four rats per person (32 million).  So when water filled the huge network of subterranean tunnels, those rates went on the move.  Dr. Rick Ostfeld is a senior scientist who specializes in both disease ecology and rodent population dynamics at New York’s Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and in an interview with HLN he said “expect them to disperse widely over the next few days to weeks.”

There are all kinds of health implications for this, and as Ostfeld notes, “when infected rats disperse and mingle with susceptible rats elsewhere in the city, we might expect outbreaks in new rat populations, which could spill over into people.”  For more information be sure to visit

Sources: HLN and NBC Nightly News

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