My Summary of Big Scary Ugly Dirty Rats by Mark Jacobson
In New York City, even a dead rat can draw a crowd. The rat described in the article was about seven inches long, weighing around a pound, which is a typical size for a city rat. These rats have been a part of the city’s landscape for centuries, colonizing various urban environments.
A peculiar incident occurred when a group of young men poured beer on the rat’s lifeless body, causing it to seemingly come back to life and startle onlookers. This event highlighted the rat’s surprising resilience, a testament to their adaptability in the bustling metropolis.
Rats, particularly the species Rattus norvegicus, boast impressive survival skills. Female brown rats can become sexually mature in just eight to ten weeks and can produce a litter of pups within 21 days of impregnation. They can even mate again within eighteen hours of giving birth, resulting in over 50 offspring per year. Their abilities are not limited to reproduction; they can swim for over half a mile and tread water for up to three days. Furthermore, they possess the uncanny ability to gnaw through concrete and lead, and they can shrink their skeletons to fit through holes no larger than a quarter. This adaptability allows them to thrive in various city environments.
Currently, New York City is grappling with a rat outbreak. Reports of rats overrunning public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds, have become commonplace. Even the homes of celebrities like Michael Cera and Rupert Everett have not been spared. To combat this surge, pest-control professionals have gained notoriety, with shows like “Rat Busters NYC” tracking their efforts.
The rat issue poses a significant challenge for the city’s administration, especially after the reduction of Health Department pest-control workers. While estimating the exact rat population remains tricky, what’s more crucial is how many rats people actually see.
The article concludes by emphasizing the deep historical and cultural connection between humans and rats in the city. It suggests that complete eradication of rats is neither practical nor beneficial for both species. Instead, managing the proximity between humans and rats is recommended for peaceful coexistence. The author shares a personal story about encountering a rat near Collect Pond Park, highlighting the uneasy but inevitable relationship between city dwellers and their rodent counterparts.