It was bound to happen. As rats invade the Upper West Side, they seek out places where they can find food. And where can you find people whose tiny hands sometimes fumble on their way to their tiny mouths?


A mother posted on the blog Lollitot last week: “This morning my two girls and I were leaving River-Run playground on W 83rd street and Riverside Drive when we came face to face with a gang of rats.”

A gang! She took a video of one of the rodents, which we’ve posted down below.

Lollitot named other apparently infested areas, including the Wild West playground on 93rd Street and Central Park West, and Strauss Park on 106th Street.

We also heard from a mother named Katherine yesterday about a pretty gross situation at the popular Hippo Playground on 91st Street in Riverside Park.

“I just had to leave the Hippo Playground because of the number of rats. They were running in and out of the turtle rock, round the edges, across the playground entrance. There were at least 8 large rats. It was very unpleasant and unhealthy.”

We contacted the city parks department and the Riverside Park Fund for comment. A parks department spokeswoman wrote:

“We’ve recently reduced the number of trash cans in the playground and surrounding areas and installed rat resistant trash cans in their place to reduce access to food.  Our exterminator is evaluating the situation at the playground and we’ll take appropriate action.”

The spokeswoman didn’t specify whether poison will be used to kill the rats. Hawk-lovers have argued against the parks department using rat poison because of its tendency to kill birds too. But it might be time to do something a little more aggressive. These playground rats make our cheeky playground raccoons seem almost quaint. We don’t need to see rat gangs recreating West Side Story in our playgrounds, do we?

Photo by jayneandd, clip art by OCAL. Photo illustration by Avi.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. BILL says:

      a gang of one???????????

    2. Shane says:

      Eliminate the food at the playgrounds, the rats will go elsewhere. Simple. Do kids need snacks to get them though an hour or two of playtime? The answer is No. Heaven forbid anyone telling UWS mothers their children can’t have snacktime at public playgrounds, so good luck there.

    3. NJL says:

      I reported the Hippo park rats last month to 311. Also note the danger of rats to dogs, not to mention humans. Rat droppings contain leptospirosis, a virulent bacteria that causes rapid kidney failure in dogs and can be spread by dogs to people — one of the very few canine diseases transmittable to people. My 4 year old dog died last year of this. Wipe your dog’s feet with an antibacterial wipe when you get home from a walk, and take off your shoes as soon as you walk in the door. The rats in the park have nothing to do with the snacks of toddlers. We are simply overrun.

    4. NikFromNYC says:

      Put a bounty on bagged rats. Problem solved.

    5. MPD310 says:

      NJL, thanks for that info. So sorry about your loss, I appreciate you pointing this out to the rest of us.

      BTW as an UWS mom, I can tell you River Run is famous for the rats. Snacks and a huge water feature = rat heaven. I would love to see Shane out at the playground enforcing the “no snack” rule. Sounds like something the mayor would like too! 🙂

    6. MRB says:

      Hippo Park is overrun too. Seriously, in the middle of the day, when kids are playing, rats are scurrying around. The city needs to do something. The rats are getting braver. I called 311 and they said they wouldn’t do anything at this time due to the winter season approaching. So rats, congrats. You seem to have won this round.

    7. dcortex says:

      In an effort to reduce rodents the city has eliminated trash cans. I can no longer find anyplace to put my trash on the subway or street, as in an effort to reduce the number of sanitation workers and rats have decimated these services.

    8. Matthew says:

      move to Westchester

    9. BillNotSmart says:

      Bill wonders…”a gang of one??” No genius,it’s not only one!! there are thousands of them out there and we see them daily (day & night) but they’re not waiting for mommy to get the iphone out and pose for a photo opp with the kids. Do you have kids Billy boy? Thanks Westsiderag and specially Lollitot for the story. Do something about it Bloomberg and stop wasting time trying to limit our beverage consumption levels

    10. ira says:

      the same story on 68 street playground.even worth we have a rubber cover.very unpleasant and unhealthy.

    11. Bonnie says:

      Grandaughter’s class at River Run Park. There were a gang of rats there and on the path up toRiverside Dr. Kids playing in a Park with rats? Are we a third world country?

    12. Rosemary says:

      It seems to me that more, not fewer, trash bins should be placed! And eating should be restricted to the perimeter of the play areas — no child needs to swing, slide, or climb with food in his hands/mouth!

    13. Ann says:

      The playground on 64th and West End is over-run as well – must have seen at least 10 running around yesterday – I’m sure the new construction at West End and 61st has something to do with it –