A rat spotted recently in Riverside Park’s Elephant Playground.

By Matthew Friedman

The Upper West Side’s rat population appears to be surging, with rodents proliferating in parks and playgrounds — even making some play areas off-limits to kids.

“We are being overrun by rats in and around the entrance on 83rd Street and Riverside Drive,” wrote Janet Reed in a recent email to West Side Rag. Reed described the scene: “The trash cans, far from being vermin proof, have become feeding stations for the rats. Starting around 81st Street and to 84th Street, the rats have eaten through the trash bags at the bottom of each can. The rats continually dart in and out from the bottom of the trash cans. This goes on 24 hours a day. The rats are growing bolder (or more desperate) and the presence of human[s] (and daylight) does nothing to discourage them.”

Reed’s husband, Dan Ahearn, said that at the 83rd Street entrance to Riverside Park there were “probably three or four rats per hour” in broad daylight, but that the problem was much worse at night, when one could see “three to four rats every ten minutes.”

Another Upper West Side woman, who asked not to be named, sent us the video below shot by a friend of a rat in the Elephant Playground in Riverside Park near 75th Street. She told us the rat looks sickly. “I have had rats run by my feet in the middle of the day there while sitting on a bench.”

She reported the Riverside Park rat issue on July 28th to 311. Four days later, an auto-generated system message from the 311 system informed her that “the Department of Parks and Recreation has completed the requested work order and corrected the problem” with no further information. A parks department spokesperson sent the following response to our questions about what the department is doing to deal with the problem:

Parks is diligently working to address rodents in parks and is making progress in Riverside Park by increasing trash pickups and laying mechanical traps. Depriving them of food is key; park-goers can help keep all our parks rat-free: don’t litter or feed birds, as any food left on the ground can attract rodents. We encourage New Yorkers to help keep all of our parks clean by properly disposing of their trash.

*         Mechanical traps are used in Riverside Park to address the issue; we do not use poison bait due to nesting raptors
*         We are noting results
*         Parks works with DOHMH regularly on the matter.

Elsewhere on the Upper West Side rats also seem more bold.

Tara Heidger alerted West Side Rag to the presence of rats at the Toll Family Playground, a newly rebuilt playground in Central Park near 85th Street. “It has been open for less than a year and already the rats are closing in. On any given afternoon there are a dozen or so rats encroaching on innocent children playing in the sprinklers. Half the park is no longer utilized due to the increasing population,” Heidger wrote in an email.

“Something needs to be done about this before the Toll Family playground becomes the newest hangout for all the UWS rats.”

She sent the illustrated photo below of rats in the playground.

City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who represents the majority of the Upper West Side, is aware of the issue and has already taken steps to combat it, said Marisa Maack, Rosenthal’s chief of staff. “We have seen an uptick in rat complaints since the late spring. We are working with the Riverside Park Conservancy, which is doing what it can with the resources it has,” Maack said.

Last month Rosenthal allocated $78,500 through the Parks Equity Initiative for Big Belly Bins, new garbage receptacles that would replace the aging ones residents say allow the rats to easily access food. The new bins will be located near playgrounds in Riverside Park, Maack said, and they should appear within the next year.

This is not the first time that rats have been spotted in Riverside Park. In 2012, parents complained of a similar infestation, and at that time the parks department said they’d be removing trash cans and adding rat-resistant receptacles.

As West Side Rag reported last spring, the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District donated 19 of the new solar-operated trash bins to Teddy Roosevelt Park, which surrounds the American Museum of Natural History. “By and large the bins have been very successful,” said Barbara Adler, the Business Improvement District’s executive director. “The Parks Department tracked results based on rat burrows, which continued to diminish over the course of a few months, and I’m told that now the problem within the park is close to 90 percent gone,” she said.

The fight to combat the rat infestation extends beyond garbage cans. Since the parks’ red-tailed hawks prey primarily on rats, the Parks Department does not use traditional rat poison during the February to August nesting season, according to The Daily News. Instead, officials hope to begin using dry ice to kill rats in their burrows. In June the Environmental Protection Agency registered Rat Ice, a dry ice product manufactured by Bell Laboratories, for use controlling rats. According to The New York Times, the product was successful when tested in a Chinatown park last year, cutting down the number of rat burrows from 60 to two.

Rats pose a problem not only because of their disgusting nature, but also because of the health risks they pose. Last winter, one person was killed and two others were sickened due to leptospirosis, an ailment spread through contact with rat urine. Rats are known to carry other diseases, and have been known to bite dogs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $32 million initiative to wipe out rats across the city, though it’s not slated to go to locations on the Upper West Side. Complaints of rodents can be filed through the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website, or by calling 311.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 104 comments | permalink
    1. David says:

      The 311 app is useless. Even when I send a picture to back up my issue, the generated response is, “no issue found” My opinion is that they get so many complaints, they just mark them off to get them out the queue with no inspecting of the complaint.

      • Dale says:

        I agree. I’ve filed complaints with 311 about street issues that are safety concerns and they say it’s being looked into and they close the case. How can you close a case you haven’t yet investigated?

      • B.B. says:

        Here is the thing, be it by 311 or NYC’s “rat portal” the system is same; in fact 311 operators only type in the same information you could do yourself here: http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/2374/rodent-complaint

        In any event the DOH sends out rat inspectors mostly during daylight hours. I questioned such an inspector about this (our block had a really bad rat infestation), since rats are nocturnal creatures, and was told “we know what to look for….”

        Have found it best to use the Rat Portal reporting website directly to file complaints, the follow up with the case number assigned. If the case is closed with “no rats found/passed inspection”. File another stating that is not the case and give reasons why…

        When filing rat complaints have also found it helpful to give clear and specific information. Instead of “rats on West 82nd street…” Give clear indication as to building address, intersection, when, where, etc..

    2. Rachel says:

      The fenced-off planted area by Diana Ross (on on the Northeast corner of 81st and CPW) is overrun by rats. I assume some of the issue is that with the warm weather, many many patrons come into the park and sit in the benches and on the grass to have lunch, leaving little bits of food behind. There must be something else they can do – maybe bring in more hawks? Hire some trained rat terriers to scare off the population? That may sound silly, but sooner or later a rat is going to bite a human in broad daylight and it’s going to become a much bigger issue.

      • Leon says:

        I am mainly in Riverside Park with my children and see a fair number of rats there, but was amazed by the huge number of rats I recently saw in the area you mentioned next to Diana Ross. Fortunately they were staying out of the actual park, but I saw dozens of rats running around. I assume this is why there are no garbage bins in the actual park, but it doesn’t really help. It is a fairly small, concentrated area that one would think could be attacked in a targeted way easily.

        Thank you to WSR for this helpful update – I am glad I am not the only one noticing this.

        • Terry says:

          Trust me, there are tons of rats running around inside Central Park, and they’re out even in broad daylight! They’re all throughout The Ramble and near park entrances, where people bring their food and then leave the remains on benches or just drop it on the pathways. The entrance on W. 79th St, just across from the Museum of Natural History and all those food trucks, is particularly bad– I won’t even walk there anymore. So many rats feasting on tourists’ food garbage right under the benches while they’re eating, and running across the paths in the open sun. Creepy!

    3. Sam Stein says:

      Rats have been a problem for some time in our parks. T.Roosevelt park, a case in point, is the worst.
      It’s scary to go into the parks in the evening or at night. Now, the rats are all over Riverside Drive. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
      I personally have called to report the rat problems. All you get from the city is lip service.
      The rats are just symptomatic of the rodents running our City.

      • Dale says:

        Good one. LOL

      • Independent says:

        It’s scary to go into the parks in the evening or at night.

        It certainly is “scary to go into the parks” after dark. And imprudent and inadvisable to do so. But rats are the /least/ of the reasons why; it’s the two-legged vermin one should fear far more than any four-legged varieties thereof.

        The rats are just symptomatic of the rodents running our City.

        Now, now, that’s uncalled-for, offensive and unfair– to rodents.

        • Phoebe says:

          Whew. I gave a small piece of chocolate to a young-ish raccoon in Central Park the other evening. It ate it up completely, but I suppose if it hadn’t completed its meal, and wasn’t hungry after desert… I know… more food for the rats. But now I feel a little better. Let’s face it: the two-leggeds are the worst.

    4. Rat A. Tooey says:

      About yer “…a dozen or so rats encroaching on innocent children playing in the sprinklers.”

      Innocent children? Really? Ya ever listen to dem little-monsters when dey knows dere’s no adults around? Makes my tail curl!

      And if dose ‘innocent’ chillun wouldn’t be dropping dere snacks all over da place, me and m’bruvvers wouldn’t come no place near dem noisy spoiled bipeds!

      Oh, and dat was a nice shot of me in dat pikcher. Can I get a copy?

    5. Dr. Cary Goodman says:

      Seems like CM Rosenthal hasn’t been much help in curbing the surge of rats. Instead of having one of her employees discuss, “an uptick in rat complaints” she should be addressing this issue, directly. The incumbent should be working with the Sanitation Department to curb the infestation and providing residents with health & safety information on rats.

      • robert says:

        This problem has nothing to do with her and long predates her, It was long in check until UWS folks went so at as to court to force the city to vastly cut back its rodent abetment projects on the UWS

        This is one of the foreseen and warned about outcomes of the self appointed community activists that yelled, stomped their feet etc. to get the parks dept. to cut back on its putting out poison to kill the rats in Riverside park. This has done for several years to stop the possibility of the hawks being poisoned by eating a rat that had eaten the poison.

        See my more complete comments below

      • Kschok says:

        Agree 100%. I’m also curious why it will take CM Rosenthal 5 more months to buy and install new garbage cans which – according to the article – are very effective at reducing rat activity. She already has the money for this!! Get something done for us, please!!

      • Mark says:

        You seem desperate.

      • Pedestrian says:

        Agreed. Contrary to some comments, the increase in rats HAS occurred during her term on the council. She should speak to the Mayor and suggest that his priorities are all wrong. But she won’t do that because it would appear that she has hooked her wagon to his “star”.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Also a huge problem around 68th and Riverside Blvd including area around playground and families of rats happily feasting during trash days on Freedom Place. Been in this area for almost ten years and last year has gotten out of control.

      Veterinarians now all recommending dogs get vaccinated for leptospirosis — aside from the fact that I (obviously) do not want my dogs to get killed by it it is apparently one of the few diseases that can spread from dogs to humans.

      • robert says:

        Just a short note on leptospirosis
        I’m on my third lab and my vet has vaccinated all of them over their entire lives for this. The dog and/or person doesn’t need to come in contact with the rat itself. Contact with the urine or feces can be enough, both of which can also “aerosol” and be breathed in.
        It kills me when I see parents all over the UWS with kids running around with bare feet. Even if the street on the one block walk to the park and/or the park looks clean, why take the chance???

    7. sam stein says:


    8. Dale says:

      When garbage is at the curb, I see them
      Everywhere when I walk my dog. All around 95th and 96th between Columbus and Amsterdam. There are always a lot of them by The Pool in The park

    9. robert says:

      This is one of the foreseen and warned about outcomes of the self appointed community activists that yelled, stomped their feet etc. to get the parks dept. to cut back on its putting out poison to kill the rats in Riverside park. This has done for several years to stop the possibility of the hawks being poisoned by eating a rat that had eaten the poison.
      The rat problem at the 97th st playground has been an off & on issue in recent years. I would not let a child near any of the sandbox’s there as they usually have rats that have burrowed into them and pop out when disturbed.
      Don’t get me wrong I love the hawks and other birds of prey that are now being seen more and more on the UWS, but enough already. There has to be some balance. Who to say the hawk won’t get a rat from the UES and bring it back. Also the proliferation of birds of prey have greatly cut into the population of other native birds. The Canadian Gosse and the Ducks have now returned in numbers. They now nest in and around Riverside park have become yearly targets for the hawks. Just go by the 79th boat basin any spring. They are also booming with the cleaner river. The hawks will have plenty of other sources of food if the rat population is cut back.

      • Carlos says:

        I agree with you completely. That being said, I recently saw a large bird (I think it was a hawk) sitting in a tree eating a rat, so it is true that they help at least a little bit. It was gross seeing the bird eat the rat yet made me happy to know there was one fewer rat in the park.

    10. CJ says:

      It doesn’t help matters that frequently there is a lady feeding hoardes of pigeons and squirrels in the 80s along the river, north of the Boat Basin – and as she walks the rats, too, follow closely behind, also gathering peanuts and whatever else she is dropping. It is insane and disgusting.

      • David says:

        Does she drive a gold Toyota van? There is also a woman that does this in 96th ST area in the morning. She gets aggressive if you ask her not to litter and not to cause more issue with her tons of bird seed

      • West 87 says:

        Yes, the bird lady feeds the pigeons EVERYDAY on my west 80’s cpw block. The pigeon population is out of control and the rats are enjoying her birdseed, too.
        What can we do to stop her?!

    11. Pedestrian says:

      When developers are allowed to dig, dig, dig, they disrupt everything including the rats. The Mayor has chosen to ignore quality of life issues for his entire term and NOW that he’s running for a second term he is interested. What a crock!

      The city is filthier than it has been in years. Food carts are proliferating in residential neighborhoods along with the associated liter and waste. The mayor ignores the obvious but NOW he’s interested. No he isn’t!

    12. RSD Resident says:

      A Parks Department employee drops breadcrumbs to feed the birds (and consequently rats and mice) on the corner of Riverside Drive and 79th every single morning. I have seen rats and mice in that area nearly every day. Wonder if there’s a connection?

    13. David Collins says:

      Thank you DeBlasio. Thank you!

    14. Cupcake! says:

      If only rats could be encouraged to encroach on guilty children.

    15. Shalom Stavsky says:

      Not jokingly, maybe they should bring some cats into the playground. (I believe that the original reason people maintained cats as pets was just for this purpose.)

      • Phoebe says:

        OY! Get rid of the poison and give feral cats a job😽🐀
        Shabbat shalom, Shalom!

      • B.B. says:

        Contrary to popular belief cats nor any other predator will exterminate a rat problem, mother nature just does not operate in that fashion.

        First and foremost predators hunt only to eat, once they are full that will be that.

        Second while cats, owls, snakes, etc… may be helpful in reducing rodent populations many will still survive; they do so by simply avoiding this or that predator.

        Finally and of far more importance to our parks, feral cats can and have decimated bird populations. Remember felines do not just prey upon rodents, but a wide variety of creatures.

        • Chirp Splat says:

          Wait. You contradict yourself. If feral cats only “hunt to eat”, then how have they ALLEGEDLY “decimated” bird populations?

          Why could they not similarly “decimate” rat populations?

          You really don’t seem to know what you’re talking about in either case.

        • Independent says:

          In cats, at least, the hunting instinct is distinct from the hunger instinct. This is the reason that even the most well-fed house cats continue to hunt, capture and (generally after prolonged tormenting) kill prey. (And often, much to the chagrin of their human keepers, to bring the delightfully appetizing carcasses home to present to them as trophies).

          Otherwise, I believe that B.B. is quite correct in everything that he wrote in the above post.

          The effectiveness of cats in controlling a rat population– at least one of any size and certainly the type of infestation we are talking about here– would indeed, at least from all that I can recall reading on the topic, be at best quite limited. (Remember, rats are often not much, if at all, smaller than the average or typical-sized cat. If what I have read is accurate, then the relationship between cats and rats, often, at least, amounts-to what is effectively a mutual non-aggression pact between the two respective species.)

          As for the claim that feral cats have wreaked havoc upon various bird populations, a quick web search would surely yield much material that clearly suggests– if not actually proves– that this is, in fact, the case. Note that this is not limited to feral cats, per se; house cats that are allowed to roam free outdoors also pose a great threat to birds.

          Omitted from B.B.’s post is any mention of the effect that feral cats– creatures that unfortunately harbor and spread any number of pathogens– have upon public health. Perhaps foremost among these is toxoplasmosis, a serious disease easily spread to humans via cat feces. I believe that pregnant women are most at risk.

    16. Emily says:

      The rats have appeared because of the huge amount of work being done digging up the streets. So glad they are not using poison which would wound in kill the birds and other animals in the park. We need the piped piper!

      • lynn says:

        Or the city could bring in the cats living under the 72nd street bridge (mentioned in another story in the WSR today). 😉

    17. NYWoman says:

      I moved from 83rd and Amsterdam area because of vermin. Loved the neighborhood. UWS Amsterdam and Columbus are tourist heavy/restaurant zones, without a BID. Other NYC tourist areas DO have BIDS – people picking up trash, removing trash, sweeping and washing down the streets CONSTANTLY. http://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/neighborhoods/bids.page

      • Pedestrian says:

        The CITY should be cleaning the streets! It used to…remember when. But the city needs the tax dollars to pay for helicopter rides to and from gyms and big tax abatements for developers! While our mayor flys to Berlin to give a speech, he forgets he has a city to run until he’s running for re election.

        • ScooterStan says:

          Re: “…tax dollars to pay for helicopter rides to and from gyms and big tax abatements for developers!”

          WARNING: THIS IS A REALITY-BASED SITE. Go find another site to spread disinformation, untruths, and JUST PLAIN LIES! Truth is, NO ONE has EVER used a helicopter “to and from gyms”

          As for tax-abatements, they are the “bait” to get developers to include “affordable” units in their planned developments.

          Oh, and it’s “FLIES to Berlin”, not “flys”

          • Phoebe says:

            Reality? Check, please! Last I heard, these developers, who develop apartments that often don’t end up housing people from NY if anyone lives in them at all, and who obtain tax abatements, often do not fulfill the agreement, and don’t get any sanctions against them for neglecting to do so. Dig THAT.

        • Independent says:

          While our mayor flys to Berlin to give a speech,

          De Blasio did far more than that. The Mayor protested, on foreign soil, against a sitting U.S. President. Just imagine the uproar if anyone on the Right had done that during the Presidency of B.H. Obama or W.J. Clinton.

          But it doesn’t even end there. To participate in the anti-Trump antics in Berlin, De Blasio, “skipped a swearing-in ceremony for new police officers – in the wake of the assassination of a policewoman last week”. (De Blasio can’t resist the siren call of leftist protests in Germany, Rick Moran, The American Thinker, July 7)

    18. Brian Byrd says:

      When I first saw this video I got sick to my stomach. My two kids play in that playground and who knows what diseases and parasites are in there now. I agree, CM Rosenthal has been a Johnny Come Lately on this and other issues. Only now is her staff paying attention to quality of life issues. Why? Because she’s up for reelection. An “uptick”? This is a public health problem that can’t be downplayed by callously calling it an uptick.

      • Flaca7 says:

        The rat infestation has gotten worse this summer.
        Reasons are many: garbage, digging, construction, etc.
        but one that’s very upsetting and preventable is so many people feeding the birds and squirrels with peanuts and an entire loaf of bread! I know beacause my dog wants some and of course so do the rats. Why not post sign to discourage or prohibit doing this?

    19. David says:

      New garbage cans won’t solve the problem. I personally witnessed some people through the garbage right on the street near these new bins because it was complicated for them to open it (old people, kids, etc…) The main problem is people throwing garbage on the street, don’t look on the rats population but on our streets, they are full of disgusting garbage, everywhere! Trying to kill the rats is a band-aid and not a real solution to the issue that people don’t care to take their garbage with them or put it in trash. Look at our subway stations/tracks/cars and streets. Only enforcement with fines and education will change this situation. A person that throwing half eaten sandwich on the street should be fined if we want to live in a clean and civilized city.

    20. Toni Stanley says:

      The article Feral Love appears just below in this issue. I adore cats but sadly feeding cats is feeding rats. Kittens and cats are no match for NYC rats. So ironically this act of kindness is fostering the rat problem. Where there is an abundant food supply, as is the situation throughout our parks and the entire city, there will always be rats. Feeding birds is also major contributing factor. Drastic city-wide measures must be taken on a continuous basis the dry-ice method seems to be most successful and I for one would urge the city to use it wide-spread!

    21. Beth says:

      Strawberry Fields in Central Park is also overrun by rats. The “musicians” who hang there leave their food in the flower beds which feeds the rat population. It’s one of the most visited areas of the park yet full of rats. I know the Conservancy tries to manage it but it’s impossible as they can’t do anything about the guys who are there all the time.

    22. Sue says:

      Just called 311 yesterday after seeing at least 6 rats by the West Side Institutionsl Synagogue on West 76 St between Columbus and Amsterdam. There is a nursery school in the building . There is also a playground and school directly across the street. It has never been so bad.

    23. Rat populations are higher in this area than they have been in the past, fed we believe in part at least due to population increases in the parks and construction areas. We have seen increased activity throughout the whole neighborhood. We are Broadway Exterminating Co and have been helping lower rodent populations for over 45 years on the Upper West Side. We have a store in the neighborhood for all types of control and are happy to offer suggestions or to answer any questions you may have.

    24. Warren says:

      Walking my dog at night is a big issue, the rats do not run away but stand their ground. Big issue at 79th and Riverside. Plus someone is feeding the pigeons there and the rats are enjoying the left overs. They may have to move the garbarge cans for a while.

    25. Nina S Maruca says:

      I was on the Broadway meridian at 67th Street last evening (7:00pm) and saw several rodents foraging for food under the benches.

    26. Nukleopatra says:

      There needs to be a crackdown on people who feed birds, which inevitably leads to other vermin having a feast. On the corner of 109 and Amsterdam, someone leaves an entire TRAY of bread, almost on a daily basis, for the pigeons, and it just sits there getting chomped on by whatever animals happen by it, namely rats after the sun sets. Why people do this is mind-boggling. Why not give that tray of bread to a homeless shelter (or hand it to a homeless person on the street)?

      • Jen says:

        New Cleopatra,

        Would you like leftovers of bread somebody bit on? If yes, ask for this tray of bread. If no, please stop advertising it as suitable food for homeless.

    27. Jess says:

      I got a call from 311 the other day – I emailed them with a rat complaint in Hippo Park and they responded within about a week.

      They said that the problem is they are not allowed to use certain pesticides anymore because of issues with eagles and other protected wildlife. They said the exterminators need to come at night and put down “organic” rat poison. I am not sure what that is, exactly, but it does not work as well as old fashioned rat poison, I guess. She was apologetic and wanted me to know that they are aware of the problem.

      Not sure how helpful this is, but wanted to share…

      • Es says:

        What time of day did you see them in Hippo Park? I saw one around 5 pm on a weekend running across. At first glance I thought it was a squirrel!! Yikes!

      • B.B. says:

        Have never heard of “organic” rat poison in my life.

        There are four main rodenticides used by professionals, they are also found in lesser concentration in baits sold to the public such as at Duane Reade.

        Brodifacoum – Very lethal second generation anticoagulant. Antidote is vitamin K. However the poison has a very long half-life in body. Because of this treatment for exposure even with the antidote requires prolonged duration. Brodifacoum is one of the most common and frequently used rodenticide in the USA and world. It is also used to kill larger animals such as gophers, opossums, and other “vermin”.
        – Powerful second generation anticoagulant. Antidote is vitamin K. Sold for use to both professionals and consumer use

        Difethialone – Powerful second generation anticoagulant. Banned by the EPA about eight years ago for sale to non-professionals and cannot be used at all for exterior baiting.

        Second generation means poisons designed to kill rodents who have developed a tolerance to warfarin. Because these anticoagulant poisons have an antidote (again vitamin K) there are preferred and now often being pushed by EPA and others over the more lethal Bromethalin. That substance has no known antidote.

        There are of course far more poisons out there that have been used and still are for killing rodents (cyanide, arsenic, thallium, strychnine), but problem was people over the centuries used those poisons to off themselves (suicide) or someone else (homicide. Though once routinely sold in local shops that practice has long ended.

        Long story short rats are highly intelligent creatures. They also are very weary of new things including foods in their area. Since rats cannot vomit they often will sample any new food to see if it makes them ill. If it does they won’t go near, and will warn off others as well.

        So what rat poisons have to do is get the rodents to consume a lethal dose, but also not associate the stuff something “bad”.

        Both anticoagulant and Bromethalin work by slowly poisoning rats. They don’t feel ill at once but slowly are either internally hemorrhaging and will die, or in the case of Bromethalin destruction of their central nervous system. Either way death occurs so many days after feeding that rats don’t make the connection.

        The problem in NYC and really across the country now is those well meaning people going on about “raptors”, coyotes, and other animals that prey upon rodents. If they ingest enough poisoned rodents, they too will die from exposure. This also applies to dogs and cats who come into contact with same.

        By federal law NYC DOH and or anyone else must post signs after an area is baited with rodenticide telling what is used. Am more than certain if you look at those red and white signs all over NYC you’ll find the poison listed as either Brodifacoum or
        Bromadiolone. There might be one of the other known poisons, but highly doubt anything “organic”.

        NYC like other areas was experimenting with using dry ice to kill rats. But the EPA put an end to that as well. Pity really because dry ice had great success in reducing rat borrows. Results were almost good as using more well known and established fumigants such as hydrogen cyanide (sadly better known under the brand name Zyklon B).


        Only “organic” other method of controlling rats in NYC one can possibly think of is the new plan out of City Hall to use birth control instead of poison. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-deploy-rat-birth-control-attempt-curb-breeding-article-1.3065641

    28. shira says:

      they are all over central park too!! its disgusting.

    29. 92nd Street says:

      There have always been Rats in the Parks, there are millions of Rats under the City. As long as Maintenance personnel take heed to keep trash, food, and feces disposed of responsibly they will not pose any more danger to people than Squirrels, Pigeons, or Dogs.

    30. Janet W. says:

      In the past few weeks I’ve seen dead rat carcasses on West 96th Street, between West End Avenue and the entrance to the Henry Hudson Parkway. I don’t know who cleared the carcasses from the sidewalks but I now see more rats, dead and alive, on West 97th Street, from Broadway to Riverside Drive.

    31. Purely says:

      The rats are bold and equally disgusting at CPW & 72nd St …… The numbers are shocking

    32. Phoebe says:

      “You got rats on the west side bed bugs uptown”

      • GG says:

        Exactly, Phoebe! And that was in the 70’s. This is not a new issue.

        One of my favorite albums of all time, by the way. Nice reference.

        • Phoebe says:

          I couldn’t stand that album at first, but after many many turns… I agree… and good music always jumps in the when needed. (Even bad music does that sometimes too when it’s trying really hard to be good;)

      • Terry says:

        “What a mess this town’s in tatters, I’ve been shattered”

        Not a new problem– the Rolling Stones sang about it back in 1978.

    33. Melissa Pokala says:

      Yes, I have noticed many more rats at the Hippo playground in Riverside Park, as well. Thank you for this informative article.

    34. stevieboy says:

      I think they are kind of cute. People need to lighten up. Live and let live.

      Peace and love to all of earths creatures.

    35. BigGuy says:

      There are a few people who leave large amounts of food for pigeons in Riverside Park near 73rd Street. There’s one man, looks like an aging hippy, who comes almost daily on his bike. According to this article, the rats feed on such leftovers.

    36. B.B. says:

      Several things are going on with the increase in NYC rat population.

      First as already mentioned the massive construction boom going on in Manhattan. When you tear down/renovate old buildings, dig up streets, you disturb Norway rats who by nature are underground creatures.

      Two, many, many, many people are slobs! They eat any and every where (on streets, buses, subways, etc…) and throw the remains/leave their garbage behind. Even when they do find a trash can it is often overflowing and or of little deterrent to rats.

      Three, global warming. Rodents will breed (and they do so very efficiently) long as temperatures are >32F. We have not had sustained cold winters in NYC for many years now. Even when we do have cold spells they usually are only weeks long, not the months of years ago. Thus rats are free to breed for longer periods of time, and there isn’t a cold snap to help reduce their numbers.

      Four, and most importantly the City really blundered when it stopped requiring trash to go out in metal containers with tight fitting lids in lieu of plastic bags.

      Plastic bags even when doubled or tripled are no match for rats; especially when they have learned such things are a source of food. At least three times per week a feast of rubbish is put out on NYC streets, and rats know where to go.

      The other issue came when NYC prohibited burning of trash in incinerators. Residential buildings now must store trash *somewhere* for one or two days. In some cases even longer if there are major holidays, a bad weather, etc…

      Many NYC buildings simply are not designed to store trash. Witness all those four to six story brownstone, walk-ups, tenements, etc… that have garbage areas right in front of buildings.

      If the city would go back to mandating rodent proof garbage cans (metal or otherwise), with tight fitting lids it would do much to decrease rat population. But then the DSNY would have fits as they have long since moved down to two man crews instead of the three during metal can era.

      • js says:

        Thank you – this is a really good summary.

        It is truly amazing to see people add garbage to already full garbage cans with garbage spilling over on to the sidewalk. Folks leave their Starbucks cups, pizza boxes etc

        Also unbelievable amounts of trash generated by continual high rise development. Sometimes hardly space to walk on the sidewalk due to trash bags taking up space

      • Phoebe says:


    37. Bill CLarke says:

      Hahahah.. The Council member says there is an “uptick” in rats since Spring. I love the UWS but it’s common knowledge that this place is INFESTED with rats. I live on 80th between Amsterdam and Columbus and when I lay in bed at night I hear people screaming as they walk up the street as rats are running in and out of the street. I made the mistake of looking out the window at 3 AM one morning when I woke up to go to the restroom. I saw dozens and dozens of rats running through the streets. 311 is useless and our mayor is in complete denial about rats and everything else. The only thing he every says is “Ummmm, this is not the previous administration” Come on man… Time to throw in the hat. You’ve been of zero help to this city. Wasn’t your platform “affordable housing?” By the way, my rent has gone up twice since you became mayor—Not to mention mentally ill people are running through the UWS like it’s the 70’s again…TIME TO GO MR. MAYOR!

      • Phoebe says:

        Bloomberg was supposed to house the homeless. Shelters are not the solution, nor are single hotel rooms.
        Just relax and sing Ben…

    38. KP says:

      My 5-year-old and I were at a birthday party at the Hippo Playground in Riverside park. There were so many rats and what looked like mice, we left early. They were under the outdoor tables where the party food was being set up. In and out of the trash. On the paths to the playground. It was really disgusting to see and my child was uncomfortable during what should have been a fun time at the park.

      I called 311 as soon as we left and notified park staff while we were there. They seemed to know about the infestation but didn’t seem eager to deal with it.

    39. Lucille says:

      There should be a law against feeding birds in the parks many people feed birds the remainder of their meals,
      I have witnessed many residents with bags full of stale bread to feed the birds- which eventually results in more food for rats. It would also help to control the pigeon population who are basically flying rats

      • lynn says:

        I was looking for more info about feeding pigeons and came across this website. If you scroll down there’s a “Please Do Not Feed the Pigeons,” sign, followed by the line, ‘In my neighborhood and across New York City, there are quite a few places with signs like the one above.’

        I don’t recall ever seeing these signs anywhere in NYC. Has anyone seen them? And if they exist then shouldn’t there be some kind of fine involved if you do feed pigeons?


    40. Mike says:

      This us all disgusting, but can someone please explain why it takes a year for the Ciy Council to replace a garbage can?

      • Uwsider says:

        It should not take a year to replace trash cans. It’s just that the only reason the current city council woman is even talking about replacing trash cans is because she is up for re-election.

    41. UWS Dad says:

      I’ve definitely noticed a lot more rats in the last few months, particularly inside River Run playground (at around 83rd and Riverside) as well as the Toll Family Playground mentioned in the article. I’ve also seen older kids trying to feed or chase the rats, which is bound to end in someone getting bitten.

    42. Ted says:

      Rats are nocturnal creatures so when you see them out in broad daylight it means that the dens they share have grown so over crowded that weaker individuals are being pushed out of the dens. In other words seeing rats out during the day is a sign that there is a huge rat population.

      Despite the appointment of “rat czars” and the like the problem keeps getting worse.

    43. John says:

      There is a group of folks with great rat-killer dogs called R.A.T.S that have been featured in a number of news sites, most recently here:


      I say we make the group larger!

    44. J.P says:

      The Toll family playground is infested with rats. Yes, 311 is useless! I sent a complaint a few days ago. They responded saying that they cannot set baits out due to hawks but they will set traps…

    45. saray says:

      It has been similarly bad along 70th Street between Amsterdam and West End. I’ve been walking that block at night consistently for the past 14 years, and only in the last year have I noticed any rat activity at all (darting between the playground next to PS199 and the street/trashbags left on the street. It’s pretty terrifying and definitely disgusting.

    46. Jimbo says:

      Jimmy Cagney had it right “YOU DIRTY RAT”…

    47. BrendaT says:

      Last week I sat on a bench near the 83rd street entrance of Riverside Park. During the course of 1 hour, 5 rats came within 12-inches of my feet. Walking out of the park I spotted 5 more rats. This was in broad daylight! Before this, I had gone 2 years without seeing a rat. Something is definitely going on.

    48. AP says:

      Bins are needed outside Hippo Park. The garbage is mow stacked in plastic garbage bags which are ripped apart by rats and racoons. Everything you read says the way to keep food away from the critters is locked bins or locked garbage cans. Plastic bags are not suffcient

    49. Bonnie says:

      If they can’t hire the Pied Piper, how about emptying the overflowing cans each evening?

    50. J.P. says:

      omg there are tons of rat holes by the entrance to central Park on 85th & central Park west!

    51. Mark Moore says:

      I will not walk past that park on West End and 106th. Sometimes you can see the vines and the overgrowth bristling back and forth. It’s disgusting.

    52. Althea says:

      I’m from the MA Berkshires and we have predators that naturally keep rodents in check. I’ve read about NYC coyotes and official’s efforts to eradicate them. WHY?!? Learn to live with coyotes, foxes, birds of prey, and cats because they are capable of handling the problem you face

    53. Howard Freeman says:

      I have a much cheaper alternative to Bill’s $32 million proposal: use our free votes to hire Joe Lhota as mayor. Get the rat *and* MTA problem fixed.

    54. stevieboy says:

      We could solve this problem very easily. Just how they got rid of their snake problem in India.

      First, put a bounty on the rats. Let’s say $2 per rat. You see all these people looking through garbage to get a nickle for a bottle deposit. Anyway, pretty soon people will be dropping off bags of these dead rats at City Hall or wherever.

      By the time people figure out how to game the system (again, see India) most of the rats should be gone. We can handle SOME but this is getting to the point of too many.

    55. Wescot says:

      Just saw six in the matter of five minutes between 98th and 99th and Riverside Drive. It’s getting worse and worse–not better. And the mayor is not allocating funds to the UWS? Why not?