NEW YORK - If you live in the Big Apple, you're probably accustomed to being on the lookout for rats. You might see them in the subway system, scrounging for food on the street, or even inside your apartment building. Don't be shocked if you see more of them this year.
The New York City Health Department told FOX 5 NY complaints of rodent sightings are up this year compared to last year. Also, there have been 15 cases in the city, including one fatal, of leptospirosis this year. It's a bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals, often rodents.
"So, yes, from every year to the next year there is going to be more rats, but I think we are seeing a higher competition for rats this year," said rat expert Kevin Carrillo with M&M Pest Control.
Carrillo said that without a large-scale system from the city to address rodents, they'll naturally increase every year. But the pandemic may be adding to the increased rat sightings.
"Although there is more outdoor dining, you actually have less food being thrown out because many restaurants have closed, they have reduced hours, they have reduced staff," Carrillo said. "So we're getting less food thrown out, so the rats therefore have less food available to them so there's a higher competition."
More competition means rats are less spread out and therefore congregating more at specific areas. Carrillo said people are also sitting outdoors more than they would have pre-pandemic, so there's just a greater chance of spotting rats in general.
So whether you like them or not, expect to see these rodents roaming our streets for the foreseeable future.