After humans, the brown rat (rattus norvegicus) is the single most successful mammal on the planet. Stretching 20 inches from head to tail, it can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and is generally most common in urban areas.
New York City is quite familiar with the brown rat, home to an estimated 32 million of them (or four per person). Thanks to warmer winters, more easily accessible discarded food, and an infrastructure ripe for infestation, the city has witnessed an explosion in population growth in recent years. Enter Jimmy Tallman and Michael Morales, service managers at Magic Exterminating, and the stars of Animal Planet's new series, "Rat Busters NYC."
"Michael and I are constantly getting down and dirty searching for pests people don't want to see or touch," said Jimmy in a release. "You'd expect to find rats, raccoons and bedbugs in the filthiest of places, but in this city they're everywhere — suburban neighborhoods, city high rises and office buildings, and everywhere in between! We're the last line of defense against unwanted roommates that don't pay rent."
The hour-long, six-episode season features the entertaining duo tackling some interesting animal control issues, including a house that not only features a mouse infestation but also a missing 7-foot python.
"This job is never easy," says Michael. "Jimmy and I have to be one step ahead of our catch. We always say we have to think like rats. It can sometimes take months to eradicate a pest problem, so we're always rolling with the punches and coming up with new tactics to come out ahead."
As someone who humanely attempts to deal with mice in my walls and attic, I can attest to the difficulty in controlling creatures intent on moving in with you. Such is the price we pay, however, for sharing this planet with others. As a Time magazine article points out, it doesn't all have to be about war — with pest management being the best defense against rats and other vermin. New York City even has its own Rodent Task Force, as well as an online "rat map" for helping residents locate trouble spots.
Every garbage can without a lid, every window screen that had been nudged aside just enough to let a rat slip by, grease marks from rat hair along a concrete wall — it all gets noted and pinpointed on the map. "We train our inspectors to see what everyone overlooks," says rodent expert Bobby Corrigan, echoing Sherlock Holmes. "This is a living laboratory. There's probably 100 variations in rat colonies in New York as to how they behave."