HLNTV.com interviews Dr. Rick Ostfeld, a specialists in "disease ecology and rodent population dynamics," about how Sandy will impact NYC's huge rat population:
Everyone has a Room 101. Rats are in my Room 101. I love Manhattan, but so do the rats. The size of the rat population in NYC compares with the size of the human population. Rats are great swimmers. The only reason why I own cats is they are lions to rats.
Dr. Rick Ostfeld: I think it’s quite likely that rat populations that inhabited low-lying areas of NYC (sewers, storm drains, subways, etc.) will be massively affected by Sandy. Some individuals likely will be killed, but rats are excellent swimmers and climbers, and I expect them to disperse widely over the next few days to weeks. Some might return home when the floodwaters subside, but others will set up shop in some new place.
Where will these rats try to go?
Ostfeld: Initially to higher ground. Unfortunately, much of that higher ground consists of stores, apartments, warehouses, schools, and other places where we don’t want rat companions. We can expect a phase of dispersing, wandering rats followed by their establishing new colonies and social orders. The wandering phase, which could take weeks, presents a problem as the animals mix with one another (increasing risk of disease transmission to other rats) and look for food, often near people.