It’s bad news for rodents… Yesterday, Council Member Erik Bottcher led New York City’s Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi on a tour of Hell’s Kitchen’s rat hotspots — in the hope that something can be done about the infestation of vermin that has plagued the neighborhood for years. 

CM Erik Bottcher and Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi in Hell's Kitchen
Council Member Erik Bottcher (right) and Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi (left) check outdoor dining on W44th Street for rats in Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Ariel Pacheco

Corradi was announced as the City’s Rat Czar in April, and Bottcher immediately reached out to invite her to see areas in the district classed as chronic rodent locations. Data in 2022 showed a massive jump in 311 rat sightings in Hell’s Kitchen compared to previous years. 

At each stop, Corradi and Bottcher met Block Association heads and community members to get localized feedback on places where rodents were most prevalent — including on W44th Street between 9/10th Avenue and on W53rd Street and 9th Avenue.

CM Erik Bottcher and Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi in Hell's Kitchen
Council Member Erik Bottcher and Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi in Hell’s Kitchen looking for rodents. Photo: Max Guliani/CM Bottcher’s Office

“We’re coming up with concrete next steps that could be executed to address these specific conditions on these blocks,” said Bottcher.  “We’re making a list of actions for both the city and property owners, and following up on those items and then meeting again down the road and checking in on progress of what worked and what didn’t.” 

“Every time I do a walk-through, I think the goal is the same,” said Corradi. “Connecting with the neighbors who live here, with their experiences, and to do as much on-the-ground education as possible.” 

The most common complaint is that outdoor dining sheds have become a popular home for rodents. They provide shelter and access to a food supply like garbage, which can often be found close by. After dark, the nocturnal creatures can often be seen scurrying in and around the sheds and across sidewalks.

“They are structural places where rats like to live and then a food source, so wherever that occurs, you’ll get an influx of rats,” said Corradi. “They’re mammals like us, so they’re always looking for a secure food source and warm, safe place to live.”

During the walk, she spotted several different burrowing holes in the soil by sidewalk trees. Rats burrow for shelter, nesting and to access food.

Rat holes Hell's Kitchen
During the walk, rat holes in the soil by sidewalk trees were spotted. Photo: Ariel Pacheco

“Rats like to live in earthen surface dirt. When they make a burrow in the soil, they prefer pure dirt. If you layer gravel, sand and wood chips in a lasagna stacking method, it collapses back in and makes it more difficult for them to burrow,” said Corradi. “It’s an easy technique that property owners and neighbors can use to disrupt and disturb their burrows.” 

Open garbage cans and litter are also a big attraction for rodents. “If there’s littering, garbage, and an area for rats to live, rats will live there,” said Corradi. 

CM Erik Bottcher and Rat Czar Kathleen Corradi in Hell's Kitchen
Co-chair of HK49-54 Block Alliance Catie Savage (center) talking to CM Bottcher and Rat Czar Corradi on W53rd St about the rodent issues. Photo: Ariel Pacheco

The next steps will include liaising with local businesses, residential buildings and government agencies like the Department of Health and Parks Department to better keep the neighborhood clean — and in turn, cut the population of rodents, although Corradi and Bottcher acknowledge it will be a long battle.

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1 Comment

  1. My car broke down yesterday and when the tow truck came, the guy opened the hood to find that rats were living there. They even left their food behind.

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