‘Rat Crisis’ Hits New York City As At Least 2 Million Of The Unwanted Rodents Cause A Record Number Of Hotline Complaints

Rats are literally taking over New York City with a record number of callers phoning in complaints about the rodents to the city’s hotline. The city’s Comptroller Scott Stringer is taking the complaints seriously and says the city is on the verge of a “rat crisis.” However, he claims that there are things the city could do to curb the rat problems including more regular cleanings of the subway stations.

The Daily Mail reports that New York City is battling rats like never before. Though the rodents have been a staple of NYC for some time, researchers say there are an estimated 2 million rats in the city right now and the numbers are continuing to rise. The problem is evident by the increasing number of phone calls the city is receiving regarding rats at the complaint hotline. The city says it is on pace to receive more rat complaints than ever before, beating out last year’s staggering 24,000 calls. Auditors of the situation are calling the problem a “rat crisis” and has left many searching for answers to the everyday issue.

New York City will be inundated by 2085 if carbon emissions go unchecked. (Photo: Jon Ottosson/Unsplash)

One man, the city’s Comptroller Scott Stringer, says he has appointed himself the “rat czar” and is taking the complaints seriously as he urges the city to do more to control the growing population of rats. Stringer says the issue is not one that should be pushed under the rug and notes that he is shocked that the city Health Department is not taking the complaints more seriously. Stringer says there are a number of things that the city could do to help control the population of rats including more frequent cleaning of the underground subway stations and responding to phoned in complaints more quickly. He notes that rats run the street like they own the place and it must be stopped.

“I’ve seen rats walking upright, saying, ‘Good morning, Mr. Comptroller.’ It’s unsightly to see rats running through neighborhoods like they actually bought a co-op somewhere.”

Though Stringer says the city should do more, Caroline Bragdon, a city’s health department scientist, says it isn’t that simple and that the city already employs a task force of 50 individuals charged with responding to rodent complaints and working to control the rat population in the city. In fact, it was noted that New York City has a $3 million budget specifically set aside each year to combat the rat population in the city.

rats in NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio is also tackling the problem with a new plan he is calling the “rat reservoir” that will focus rat control efforts on the areas with the highest number of complaints. The rat task force will go in and dismantle all food sources and needed habitats in a bid to decrease the number of rats in the area.

Meanwhile, New York residents say the problem is getting out of hand and that at night the rats seem to be everywhere. Yessenia Alvarez, a frequent subway rider in Harlem, claims that the rats are a real problem in the subway terminals.

“There are a lot of rats, especially at night. When they come out, it’s like they’re everywhere.”


CBS News notes that though the rats can, and sometimes are, treated with poison, that isn’t always the first plan of action. Instead, Bragdon says the city tries to deal with the issue by ensuring the subway stations and surrounding areas are clean. However, the city saw little improvement in the number of rat sightings in the subways after implementing a no trashcan policy at the platforms. The initiative moved all trash cans above ground to just outside of the subway stairs in a bid to decrease the amount of garbage for the rodents to eat at the platform; however, the removal did little to slow the rat population and it is back to the drawing board.

What do you think about New York City’s rat crisis?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Spencer Platt]