In Defense of New York City Rats


Not by me, of course. That’s disgusting. But out there in this wild city, somewhere between the men with no eyebrows and the old lady chomping on a raw potato, are people who were taken aback by the New York Times article entitled “Study Scours New York Subway, Finds Rats Remain Wily.” It was a playful piece, really, all “hairy critters” and “rodent jamborees” up in your subway station and the city trying to kill them. The trash room, the piece said, was like “a restaurant” for the vermin. “There’s not enough traps around to trap all the rats in New York City,” it concluded. Today, a chorus of defenders wonder why, oh why would we ever want to get rid of all the lovely rats, fellow creatures of god? They don’t even rape, wrote one pro-rat weirdo.

The Times had apparently asked for photographs of rats (stupid idea, btw, we’ve all seen them) but along the way

we also got something that surprised us: passionate e-mail messages defending, applauding, lauding and otherwise expressing affection for … rats. Who knew so many New Yorkers, and others, loved their rats so much? We certainly didn’t.

These people are bizarre. Look:

They don’t make war for political reasons, they don’t rape, they don’t create unstoppable oil spills or unleash nuclear weapons and kill themselves and many others in the name of religion or perpetrate genocides, they don’t do any number of the heinous things our supposedly “advanced” species does.

Oh, Willard, so nice of you to read the New York Times.

And from a poor sad poet, rejected by The New Yorker and maybe even The Poetry Section:

Starved for wildlife as I am, I relish the ratty sightings, fuzzy little signs of life on a dim and dirty subway platform.

Some of the letters sound confused, and some, admittedly, tongue-in-cheek — wink wink, rats are cute, right? But the common thread between most of these strange, almost haunting, rat-loving missives is loneliness. Reach out and touch somebody today, so they can stop doing things like this with rats:

I had a pet rat for more than two years. She was one of the sweetest animals I have owned. She would sit with me when I watched TV in an old robe I would later wash. She was cuddly and would lick me when I stroked her, etc.