The New York Metro recently interviewed Rick Simeone, director of the pest control services within the NYC's Department of Health. Some may know Simeone better by how the Mayor's Office has referered to him... "the Rat Whisperer." With 20 years on the job, he is the expert in all topics related to rats in NYC. He and his team are responsible for handling New York’s rat population where he says the "biggest challenge when trying to control how many rats run amok is how fast the rodents multiply."
In the interview, Simeone details that two rats can reproduce at a rate of 2,000 offspring per year if left unchecked. To understand and address issues as they arise across the boroughs, he tries to “go out and see what’s going on. [...] If anybody puts a complaint in, winter spring, summer, fall we go out and investigate those complaints.” This is a key component to helping to team get ahead of the problem.
“[Rats] don't breed in the winter time, that's a big thing,” Simeone said. “Number two, sustained cold, subfreezing weather reduces the rat population. They get cold, they freeze, there’s less food out, there are less people throwing garbage out. ...Cold winters have a significant effect on reducing rats.”
If there’s a rat infestation in a particular park and Simeone addresses it in the winter, “it’s going to have a really good impact,” he said. “It’ll impact spring and summer,” too.
And if you’re wondering how much the rat population can actually be curtailed, Simeone has examples, like with Columbus Park in Chinatown. By installing Bigbelly trash cans (those solar powered compactors experts say are great at keeping rats out of the garbage) and working through the other programs, Simeone and his team reduced the number of rat burrows in the park from 200 to about 10.
“That’s a 95 percent reduction rate in rats there,” he said. “But more important was that the commissioner of health, several months later went out, called me, and said, ‘God, Columbus Park looks nice.’”
It's no wonder that New York tops the charts of most rat infested cities in the US. Fortunately, they are doing something about it... "De Blasio Administration Announces $32 Million Neighborhood Rat Reduction Plan"