NYC tourists can now visit city’s rats


September 14, 2023



Taking a trip to New York City soon? Well now you can add a rat tour as one of your sight-seeing activities.

Tourists that go to New York City to check out its growing rat population now have tour guides that are tailored excursions to introduce them to the city’s rats.

Luke Miller, owner of Real New York Tours, adds a stop to Columbus Park near Chinatown for tourists that want to check out the rat population.

“They are like the new celebs in New York City with all the press they are getting,” Miller told the New York Post.

Kenny Bollwerk maps out late-night rat routes near Rockefeller Center and in Flushing and Sunnyside, Queens.

“Rats are like a New York City mascot,” Bollwerk said. “People want to see it for themselves.”

Bollwerk’s free walking tours of rat hotspots include busted-up sidewalks and construction sites where the rodents squeeze themselves under fences and through sidewalk cracks, and restaurants in Sunnyside and Forest Hills where garbage is piled high, and abandoned outdoor dining shacks provide rodent refuge.

Up to 10,000 people at a time tune in to Bollwerk’s TikTok live streams as he explores rodent-infested areas.

Check out his Tik Tok page, including this video where he was featured on CNN about tourists taking rat tours:

@nyc_kb Thank you Jeanne Moos @CNN for covering @rattoknation! #jeannemoos #rattour #nycrats #weirdnews #nycrattours ♬ original sound – nyc_kb

In some videos, he sprays a peppermint repellent around the sites and encourages viewers to call 311 to report them.

Rat populations grew exponentially during the pandemic due to ample shelter and food from outdoor dining.

“The temporary outdoor dining program was a crucial lifeline for our city during the pandemic, but it was designed without a plan to keep the rats from becoming its biggest patrons,” said New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch.

There were over 60,000 reports of rat activity citywide in 2022 — a 102 percent increase from 2021, according to Health Department data. So far this year, there have been over 39,000 reports of rat activity.

The city launched a crackdown in 2022 that included new rules for securing garbage and what times it could be put out.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed Kathleen Corradi as the rat czar to lead handle the city’s rat population.

In July, New York City released its next steps in the ongoing effort to control its rodent population, which involves getting bags of trash off city sidewalks and into covered containers instead.

First, the Adams administration is publishing a final rule requiring restaurants and other food-related businesses put their trash in secure containers. Second, the city will push to expand the containerization requirements to all chain businesses with five or more locations in New York City.

Together, the regulations are expected to impact 25 percent of businesses across the five boroughs, the city said. These businesses that produce about 4 million pounds of waste every day.

Would you take this rat tour on your next trip to New York City? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author

Ellen Wagner is a former digital editor for PMP magazine.

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