NYC waged a conflict on rodents. Now it’s trying to find a brand new ‘rat czar.’


War is raging in New York City, and bloodshed is imminent—or so city leaders hope as they search for a new “Rat Czar.”

The rats’ battle for supremacy in the Big Apple has long been a losing battle — but they’re gaining momentum. Though humans still outnumber rats, the rodent population is increasing, fueled by the city’s ubiquitous all-you-can-eat buffet of trash. The New York City Sanitation Department has recorded a 71 percent increase in rat sightings since October 2020. Though the city’s exterminators did their best, it was a bit of a resistance movement as the four-legged enemies scurried into dark corners and hounds avoided. Rodent antics include molesting pets, attacking pigeons, mercilessly stealing food, and sending people to the hospital — and occasionally to their deathbed.

Mayor Eric Adams (D) has had enough – because “there is NOTHING I hate more than rats,” he posted on Twitter.


A new job listing for the “Director of Rodent Control,” released this week, is almost as tough as city officials’ hatred of rats. Job requirements include: a “swashbuckling attitude, sly humor, and an overall aura of badassery.” Knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint is also required; bachelor’s degree; and a residency in New York City.

“If you have the drive, determination and killer instincts it takes to battle New York City’s unrelenting rat population, then your dream job awaits,” Adams said in his tweet.

The role comes with a salary of between $120,000 and $170,000, well above the average New York City household income of $67,000. But be warned, the job is not for the faint of heart – the Rat Czar is expected to “apply practical techniques to exterminate rodents with authority and efficiency.”

“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 listing, which holds the position as a “24/7 job that requires perseverance and stagecraft.”

The person filling the newly created position will report to Meera Joshi, the deputy mayor for operations, who has some of her own. . . strong feelings towards rodents.

“Smart, gluttonous and productive. The rats of NYC are legendary for their survival skills, but they don’t rule this city — we do,” she wrote on Twitter. “Have you got what it takes to fight our war against rats?”

But while the gun-toting crusade against rats has culminated in New York City this year, dislike for them stretches far back.

According to a study of the world brown rat population, the rodents that scurry around dumpsters in cities like New York and Washington, DC originated in China and Mongolia — and are the product of centuries of global trade. By taking DNA samples from rats in 30 countries, the researchers found that while the animals have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, most of their conquest of the world occurred in the last three centuries. Hiding in ships, the brown rat made its way to Europe in the 15th century, and then with the arrival of colonizers to the Western Hemisphere, Africa and Australia.

Though rats eventually settled in the United States, perhaps there is no city that has historically loathed them as much as New York. A story published by the New York Times in 1865 complained about the “swashbuckling” rodents who bully small dogs in broad daylight.

“New York is rapidly gaining an unenviable reputation for producing greater numbers of rats and other household lesions than any other city in the Union, and if the increase continues much longer at the present rate it will be necessary that the Common Council is following the example of the citizens of Hamelin and hire a pied piper to charm the vermin into their destruction,” reads the article.

A street sign for Wall Street is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, the United States, 28 December 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Files

Nearly 160 years later, a pied piper must still save a city that doesn’t exactly rank as the nation’s spiciest — a title that has fallen on Chicago eight years in a row, according to an annual study by pest control company Orkin.

But with more than 8 million residents raising their torches against New York City’s roughly 2 million rodents — and an ongoing search for a mastermind to eradicate them — the rats may “hate this,” as the mayor’s office posited .

“It’s not ‘Ratatouille,'” New York City Councilman Shaun Abreu said during a news conference in October, referring to Pixar’s animated film about a rat that can cook. “Rats are not our friends.”