Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bedford-Stuyvesant is the unlucky New York City neighborhood where the most residents have picked up the phone and called 311 to report rats, according to a nifty interactive rat map put together by Gothamist.
Almost a thousand residents of Bed-Stuy's Zip code 11221 (shown in dark brown on the map) complained about the furry pests, followed by Bed-Stuy's 11216, with 626 sightings. Unfortunately, Zip code 11233 -- also in Bed-Stuy -- logged 568 complaints.
In September, a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant (who wants to remain anonymous) told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “My roommates and I have a small cat, which caught a rat almost her size in the house. It wasn’t quite dead. One of my roommates had to take it outside and drop a brick on it and put it put of its misery.”
Zip cose 11238, which includes Prospect Heights, logged 583 rat complaints, while East New York's 11207 Zip code logged 544.
By comparison, the East Village and Lower East Side reported only 314 and 374 rat sightings respectively. Area code 11201, which includes Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, clocked in with 215 rat complaints.
But even in Brooklyn Heights the repugnant rodents show no fear. One longtime resident of Montague Terrace told the Eagle in September he had recently observed rats scampering from the bushes at the entrance to the Promenade after dark. “My wife and I pulled up to the front of our building in our car, “ he added,” and two rats ran in front of the car. One turned back into the bushes, the other actually crossed Montague Terrace. My wife was afraid to get out of the car until I walked around to check that they were gone.”
On the city Department of Health’s Rat Inspection Portal, roughly 15 percent of properties inspected in Brooklyn in 2011 showed signs of rat infestations, approximately the same percentage as the notoriously ratty Bronx. This compares to roughly 8 percent in Staten Island and Manhattan, and about 5 percent in Queens.
More rat inspections were carried out so far in Brooklyn in 2012 than in previous years, according to DOH, because Brooklyn joined a rat indexing program last year. In 2011, just 20,401 inspections were carried out across the borough.
The rat indexing program is based on the concept that rats rarely inhabit a single property -- rather, they occupy entire blocks or larger areas, so more properties are inspected.
A DOH spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle, “The Health Department takes a proactive approach to identifying and abating rat infestations by inspecting properties within neighborhoods simultaneously and returning to re-inspect properties every 8 to 12 months.”
A chief complaint is garbage, which DOH says should be in hard plastic rat-resistant containers with lids.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists six diseases carried by rats, the best-known one being Leptospirosis. While medical records in the New York City area indicate that the occurrence of rat-associated diseases in residents appears to be low, residents of infested cities could be at risk, say researchers who report finding new and troubling viruses in rats in Los Angeles.
According to a rat fact sheet put together by the Brooklyn Heights Association, rats nest within 150 feet of a food source and live in colonies of 60 or more. They can survive on almost anything edible, including fruit from ornamental trees and dog feces.
The best approach to rat control is Integrated pest management, using poisons as only one of many tools, including elimination of food and water sources, good sanitation, proper storage of trash, rat-proof construction, snap traps, glue traps and preventing access to buildings. Call 311 to report rat infestations. You can also file a rodent complaint online.