NYC is waging a conflict on rodents and wishes a ‘bloodthirsty rat czar’

NYC is waging a conflict on rodents and wishes a ‘bloodthirsty rat czar’

The NYC Mayor’s Office recently posted a vacancy for a Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation who would receive an annual salary of between $120,000 and $170,000 if he or she met the job criteria

Representative photo: iStock

Badass, bloodthirsty, and an enforcer of carnage—that’s what the New York City government is looking for in their new Rodent Control Officer in order to find a foolproof solution to the city’s age-old rat threat.

NYC is the second most rat-infested city in the United States after Chicago, according to Orkin’s most recent annual rankings, and has reported over 21,600 rat complaints this year, a steep increase from pre-pandemic levels.

Foolproof planning and flat out

The NYC Mayor’s Office recently posted a vacancy for a “Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation,” or a “rat tsar,” as a City Hall spokesman put it, who would be paid an annual salary of between $120,000 and $170,000 if he or she meets the job criteria.


“The ideal candidate is highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty and determined to look at all solutions from multiple angles including improving operational efficiencies, data collection, technological innovation, waste management and wholesale slaughter,” reads the job posting.

The job posting states that the candidate should have the ability to “self-manage and conduct thorough research and outreach” and a desire to “be entrepreneurial with an interest in social impact” to strategize, manage projects and to be able to lead teams.

Also read: The tale of rats, famine and political upheaval haunts Mizoram

In addition to having significant experience in politics, urban planning, project management, operations or government, the candidate should also have “a bold attitude, sly humor and an overall aura of badassery,” the job posting states.

“Rats are going to hate this job posting. But 8.8 million New Yorkers and your city government are ready to work with you to reduce the rat population, increase cleanliness and prevent the plague,” she added.

“Post-COVID behavior the culprit”

The Big Apple has seen more rats this year than it has in a decade, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Based on submissions from 311 911 calls made this year, the report said around 7,400 rat sightings were reported in April 2022 alone, compared to 6,150 in the same month last year.

According to the report, the number of rat sightings between January and April this year was the highest in the city since 2010 – around 10,500 sightings were reported in 2010, while 25,000 were reported in 2021.

Many experts have attributed the increase in the rat population to post-COVID-19 human behavior. Experts say people switched to outdoor dining after the pandemic, enticing rats to come out of their burrows and feed on the leftovers.

Rat experts told AP that rodents need less than an ounce of food a day to survive and typically don’t travel more than a city block in search of food. The ready availability of food, either in the form of leftovers from street restaurants or in roadside garbage bags, increased their sightings.

Matt Frye, a pest control specialist for New York State and a professor at Cornell University, claimed that rat sightings are directly related to human behavior and told the AP that it’s often wasted food lying out in the open that rats are attracted to.

NYC’s fight with rats isn’t new

In its job posting, the NYC Mayor’s Office strictly advises the Rat Czar, or any resident, to be benevolent to the rodents.

“Despite their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends – they are enemies that must be defeated by the combined forces of our city government. Rodents spread disease, damage homes and electrical wiring, and even try to control the movements of kitchen staff to take over human jobs. Cunning, ravenous and prolific, New York’s rats are legendary for their survival skills, but they don’t rule this city — we do.

Last year at least 13 people were hospitalized after contracting leptospirosis, a blood infection that affects the kidneys and liver, mainly due to a link with rats, while one of them later died.

While former Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly tried to mitigate NYC’s rat threat by providing more trash cans and ensuring home inspections in at-risk neighborhoods, he rendered the post-pandemic culture of street food and curbside sheds ineffective. Subways, the go-to place for rats to find food, have also become desolate as the pandemic restricted movement of people and left rodents to scavenge on the streets for litter.

However, the city’s new mayor, Eric Adams, is determined to ensure the success of his campaign, called the Clean Curbs Pilot. As part of the campaign, the administration would set up new containerized garbage cans in the city’s five boroughs. Garbage bags deposited by local residents do not have to wait on the side of the road until the day of collection and be torn open by rats. Instead, they would be kept in the large bins until collection day. The first new containers have already been installed in two New York locations.

Adams has been vocal about his disdain for rats, recently posting an article on Twitter about the “Rat Czar’s” position.

“There’s nothing I hate more than rats. If you have the drive, determination, and killer instinct to fight New York City’s unrelenting rat population, then your dream job awaits,” he wrote.