There Will Be Rats, or Further Joys of Commuting in NYC

14 Apr

One of the things you have to get used to in New York City is the preponderance of vermin, specifically pigeons, mice, and rats.  The pigeons you’ve probably seen, living wherever you live, though I doubt yours are aggressive as city birds.  Ours here barely get out of the way for pedestrians or truck drivers and are hell-bent on landing or taking flight as close to human beings as possible.  This also may be a product of the fact that there are probably thousands of them in Manhattan, and, as you already know, we don’t have a ton of empty space around here.

The mice and rats, on the other hand, are quite something else.  We used to occasionally get mice in my childhood home, probably because we had two fruit trees in our backyard, which are like mouse cocaine.  I remember my dad disposing of a few little bodies, but those OC mice have nothing on the number and size of New York City rodents.

I must confess that I get a strange thrill out seeing mice and rats in the subway.  Let me be perfectly clear:  I enjoy seeing them crawl around five feet below me on the subway tracks, far, far away from any actual, possible contact.  Weird, I know, but I think part of it is that, as a New Yorker, this is some of the most regular contact I have with “wildlife,” and some of the critters are kind of cute (well, pretty much only the mice, which run very, very fast, but are pretty small and harmless–at least until they drop from above onto you, in which case I will be shrieking and bludgeoning as hard as the next guy).  They seem so hardy, mucking around down near the third rail, risking decapitation and electrocution for a few measly chips from an abandoned Doritos bag.

So I was a little sad (though truthfully also initially grossed-out) when I saw this “little” guy croaked out at the 6 train passage of 68th Street Station.

clean up on aisle two

It’s hard to tell, so you’ll have to zoom in, but this wee fellow is actually about the length of a plastic Coke bottle.  Not tiny, and certainly not something you want coming towards your plague-free feet.  But look at his little hands and feet, curling up in rigor mortis.  Poor thing.

I’m sure people thought I was a little sick getting a shot of this guy, but the really disturbing part is that today, three, count ’em THREE, days later, he is still there, in exactly the same position.  What are the good people of the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) waiting for?  Will I now get to add rat decomposition to the sights and smells of my NYC commute?  I sure hope to hell not.

Frisky, live rats running around in a pit safely separated from me = sure, I can live with that (although I just had a fleeting image of a sea of rats running the equivalent of the NYC Marathon in that pit, to which I say, no thanks–proving that number, in addition to size, does matter).  One maggoty rat slowly filling the subway station with poisonous, pukey fumes = no effing way.

See what you’re missing out on?

– Jho

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2 Responses to “There Will Be Rats, or Further Joys of Commuting in NYC”

  1. Out walking the dog October 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    Enjoyed your post. I write regularly on wildlife in NYC – raccoons, birds, coyotes, and, yes, rats and mice. I’ll be creating a category in the archives on Rodents, in case you’d like to check them out. Happy subway riding.

    • jhointhecity November 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Thanks so much! I just took a quick peek at your blog – congratulations on your one-year anniversary! And I loved (and was chilled) by your malevolent Mickey Mouse photos. So disturbing.

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