Shall We Kill The Rats?

As I approached the subway entrance one morning last week, I was startled when I noticed a medium-sized rat laying on the edge of the sidewalk.  Once my initial panic-response subsided, I moved in to get a closer look.

The rat was alive, but aside from blinking and exhibiting other subtle body motions, it appeared to be incapacitated and immobile.  My assumption was that the rodent was probably succumbing to the effects of a poison.

As reported by AOL News, a two-year study conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was recently completed.  The findings suggest that the key to rat control is a combination of keeping garbage rooms sealed off and placing poison in those rooms.

According to a news report that appeared on related to the same study, about half of the 18 subway lines examined got a fair or poor rating for rat infestation.  These stations had overflowing trashcans and more track litter than others.

So it is clear that trash and food are attracting these animals.  But do we necessarily need to poison and kill them because of our own inability to clean up after ourselves?

After all, rats are relatively intelligent; they have even been used recently to detect land mines in Africa and also have been found to be rather adept at detecting tuberculosis in saliva samples.

So are rats the disease-spreading, filthy, ugly rodents that they are often portrayed as?  Or are they an inherently harmless creature with a bad reputation – simply trying to survive by finding an easy meal during tough times.

Let me know how you feel about New York City’s subway rats.  Should we save them or should we destroy them?  Please – tell me why.

*This post was edited on 9/2/10 at 5:48 p.m.

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