Finally, some good news comes out of the hurricane: all the rats who previously treated the New York subway system as their labyrinthine Kingdom of Shadows will soon rule the area above ground as well as below.
With the help of Rick Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Milbrook, NY, the Huffington Post laid out a few possible ratpercussions of the Hurricane Sandy flooding on Monday:
1. Rats will make friends with rats from parts of the subway they’ve never even heard of, and establish communities in exciting new destinations like the basement of your building.
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.
2. The rats could transmit horrible diseases to you just by being rats—no biting needed—or the contaminated sewage sludge Jacuzzi they ride to above ground freedom could help dilute the pathogens.
And it’s not only the bite of a rat than can transmit disease. Rodent feces and urine can spread hantavirus, for example. Still, Ostfeld suggested that the huge volume of water Sandy is expected to bring should dilute the pathogens and lessen risks to public health.
3. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes two rats to populate a village of rats in about a month. (A pair of rats and their offspring could produce 1,500 more rats in one year if all the young survived.)
“The rodents breed fast and by the time the flood water recedes, a single pair of rats can generate rodents through an entire neighbourhood,” the Winnipeg Free Press reported in April 2011, when rising flood waters in Manitoba brought fleeing rats close to the city.
On the plus side, many, many of the rats likely drowned. If you find one washed up on your front stoop, transform its bloated carcass into a most delightful hat.
[Image via AP]