Hurricane Irene Could Drive Subway Rats to Surface


If you live anywhere along the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine, you're probably making preparations for Hurricane Irene, which could turn out to be the worst storm the region has ever faced.

Undoubtedly, animals are going to be impacted by this historic storm.  I've already gotten reports from conservationists in Florida of sea turtle nests that have been exposed by the storm's action, scattering unhatched eggs across the beaches.  High winds and heavy, pelting rains will prove difficult for birds.  Small terrestrial animals that cannot move quickly or long distances will suffer from the predicted flooding.

Rat Rat Busters
New York City rats could be forced above ground in mass numbers should Hurricane Irene flood the city.

There's one group of animals, however, that most people aren't going to feel much sympathy for during this hurricane: city rats.  New York City is sitting right in the storm's path, and should the worst predictions come to pass, the city could experience significant flooding from the storm surge.  If such flooding occurs, water will undoubtedly pour into the subway stations.

And if that happens, some are predicting that the robust subterranean population of rats that inhabit the subway tunnels could be forced above ground causing a bizarre plague of the rodents in the city's streets and buildings.  Let's hope that the worst doesn't happen and that New Yorkers don't have to contend with a mass influx of rats on top of everything else they'll be dealing with as they weather Hurricane Irene.

Check out this video from Animal Planet's new series Rat Busters NYC to see what New York City residents are up against.


Find out the Top 10 myths about rats.

Photo from Rat Busters NYC website.



David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >







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