Written by: Stuart Steele
During the Global Summit of Food Safety I was fortunate enough to be invited on a guided Rat Safari of New York City and the subway rail system under the city.
The rodent population in New York City is estimated to be 8 billion rodents including rats and mice. During the guided tour by Dr. Bobby Corrigan Ph.D. a consultant to New York City, it became very evident that New York City does not have a rodent problem but rather a sanitation and hygiene problem caused by the mountains of garbage left on the pavements every night scheduled for collection during the night by the city sanitation department.
We used Infrared Camera’s and flash lights to find rodent infestation and it was quite an eye opener to see rodents tearing into black garbage bags and feeding on the contents of the bags right on the pavement as thousands of people streamed past on the way to Times Square within one meter of them during the early evening. We observed a huge community/family of rats outside Dunkin Donuts on 37th Street in NYC where they did not even scurry away as we shone flashlights at them and when we lifted the garbage bags next to them at least another 20 to 30 rats came pouring out of the bags.
In the Subway Stations the problem was again highlighted with rodents running around the tracks between the subway trains and from there gaining access to the city above.
The Rat Safari highlighted the fact that we as humans create an environment that attract rodents as we supply them with ample food, water and harbourage.