Rats, I Hate ‘Em! Should We?


I hate rats—just like Henry Jones Senior. But my fear of city rats all started because of a strange book of horror. Actually, it was an illustration in a strange book of horror from the Enchanted World, distributed by Time Life Books.
I couldn’t read at the time, so I laid it out in front of my mother’s book case, and my strange fascination always propelled me to flip to the terrifying page.
It was all about that picture: a swarm of demonized city rats, piling themselves together on top of a man. The only thing I saw was this man’s hand reaching upwards while the buck teeth of rodents peeled away his skin.

And that is why I am scared of rats.


After just over 5 years of living in a city, I have seen my fair share of city rats running across my path, like a black cat on Halloween. I have even seen rats that were frozen to death in the harsh city winters! I once walked by a trash can that rattled, and when I looked over, a rat foot as big as my two thumb nails combined was clinging to the interior edge of the plastic. Even today, I avoid that area like the plague (just in case).

So, that’s why I’m so interested in what the heck city rats do in city life.

There is no question that rats are very intelligent. They are great pets. They are very social, intelligent, and communal! But, for someone like me, the legend that each person in New York City has a rat of their own makes it hard to walk down the streets at night. After all, there are over 8 million people in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. Rats and hamsters (my hamster story is for another time) can start making a whole lot more rats after a few months. Each litter is an average of 12 pups. But, (again: my hamster story is for another time) not all the pups survive to adulthood. That cuts litters in half ().

That’s still A lot! Right….?

A study recently shed light on the ratio of city rats to humans; rats are only 25% as common as people.
Good news for me!
So, even though I expected my move to a city to be plagued with rats, I have actually found it rather rat-less. But… 25% ratio is still a lot of rats, and I’ve only seen a handful.

Rats are part of our lives!

The rats we all know and perceive as city rats are actually the most common species of rat.
They live as omnivorous scavengers, growing fat on our left-overs.

Rats are scavengers. In a way, they clean up after us. That’s a given fact- the relationship between rats and humans is actually mutually beneficial.
But they are more than just scavengers, as I have learned.
Rats are very similar to humans, which is why (unfortunately) they are not protected in the Animal Welfare Act.

Rats, in general, are not a threat, though some have been documented as eating living humans stuck in trench warfare. But, in the city, the worst case scenario is that a rat is scared and runs up your pant leg.
And… because of my hamsters…I’m starting to relate to rats a little bit more.


If you’re interested in seeing landscapes other than “rat-infested subway station” or “greasy Chinese restaurant across the street,” check out Atmoph digital windows, perfect for nature lovers.