Bring on the Cats: Rodents of Unusual Size roaming the streets

A few readers have written to complain about especially bold rats and while I have not noticed them as much in the lower part of the district, I absolutely trust their claims and have now seen what seems like rats on steroids on Greenwich and up around N. Moore. There have been some hotspots, and call me paranoid, but I could swear the one in the photo above locked eyes with me and then followed me up Greenwich — running under the cars as I hightailed it up the middle of the street.

The rats seemed to really get comfortable in May, when neighbors sent complaints about them living in parked cars, in planters outside shuttered restaurants, and emerging in packs from the subway grates. Adding to that, the Department of Health suspended inspections to allow for social distancing (??) until late May, but they are now back on the case. And according to the agency, complaints are down. Maybe that’s due to the neighborhood being half empty?

Or maybe there really are fewer rats than we think, but the quiet streets have given them free reign. Restaurants are doing a fraction of their business, and there is a lot less garbage on the streets. So that has to explain what the DOH reports: “Complaints are down in the Tribeca area compared to last year during the same time period. We have a few compliance inspections in the area that will be scheduled in the coming days. There are no ongoing treatment sites in this neighborhood.”

In the end, it’s up to building owners to take care of the problem. The Health Department will inspect an address if you call 311, when they will look for signs of rat activity, and send the property owner a Commissioner’s Order to Abate. “Inspectors will return to the property to perform a compliance inspection to ensure the areas noted in the COTA are resolved. If they are not, we will issue summons subject to fines. In situations of repeat non-compliance, we will treat the property and send a bill to the owner for the cost of extermination or treatment.”

If you need tips, the DOH will provide guidance on how deal with the critters, and refer calls to rodent control resources.



  1. Construction sites are the worst harborage areas of rats. 456 Greenwich has plenty of open ground for rats to tunnel and burrow in and out of. 1 White Street is another disaster, with uneven pavement allowing rats to climb out from the soil under the lifted sidewalk slab.

    Also, DOH takes forever to inspect on complaints, if they do at all. You can always check the dates of inspections and orders on DOH’s Rat Information Portal, except “The Rat Information Portal map is currently undergoing updates and data is only current up to 1/8/2020.”

  2. When I take the dog out around 10PM the rat traffic in and out of Washington Market is astounding.

  3. It’s a problem that most all Tier 1 World Class Cities handle much better than us. As we don’t have alleys like other cities, the easiest answer is to get trash bags off the sidewalk and into actual holding containers. This can easily be done by taking 1-2 street parking spots per block and requiring trash bags be put there for pick up by DSNY. This also would free up the sidewalk where the bags tower and create pedestrian and ADA issues.

    DSNY announced a pilot to do just that right before COVID shut everything down. Unclear now with budget constraints if it’s still happening, but it’s embarrassing to have mountains of trash bags just sit there in this City.

    Why is it so hard to implement common sense initiatives in this City?

  4. I have been putting in complaints via 311 repeatedly since mid-April for the rat problem we suddenly have on Laight Street. Can’t get the city to address the issue no matter what I try and it’s their issue in this case because the rats are coming out of holes in the actual street here. The volume of them on garbage nights is not to be believed and they’re totally fearless…

  5. Warren Streets, Washington Square Park and Penny Park are full of rats. You can even spot them during daytime.

  6. The rats in Washington Market Park are increasing by the minute, I’ve seen around 10 at a time crossing the street to get into the trash of the Fro Yo place every evening. I have called 311 to file a complaint and I urge you to do the same if you can! Let’s clean our neighborhood up (or at least try to)