David Bowie was right: freed by Hurricane Sandy rats attack New York
HURRICANE Sandy was bad. Can it be made worse? Watch out for the…
Lynne Peeples spots rats:
…storm waters from Hurricane Sandy flood rats out of their underground residences, according to Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Milbrook, N.Y.
“Rats are incredibly good swimmers,” said Ostfeld. “And they can climb.” In other words, Sandy is unlikely to knock off the resilient rodents, but rather displace them.
According to Ostfeld, this could result in increased risk of infectious diseases carried by urban rats, including leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and even the plague. “One of things we know can exacerbate disease is massive dispersal,” he added. “Rats are highly social individuals and live in a fairly stable social structure. If this storm disturbs that, rats could start infesting areas they never did before.”
David Bowie was right:
Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Coverting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now The Year of the Diamond Dogs
We haven’t seen an increase in rats above ground caused by Hurricane Sandy,” Sam Miller, assistant commissioner for public affairs at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tells us. In fact, the flood may end up as a net positive, as far as we people are concerned. “Flooding often displaces rats but also drowns young rats in their burrows and can reduce the rat population,” Miller says.
If subway flooding happened slowly, some rats were likely able to escape to the surface, where they had a better chance of surviving. And not all of the tunnels flooded, which means a whole lot of rats — soon to have more space and trash to eat — survived to breed. But in those tunnels that flooded? Expect a whole lot of dead rats.