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Tracking NYC’s Rats

July 19, 2016

Researchers are using modern technology to track the movement of rats around New York City.


Pete Birkinshaw CC BY 2.0, via flickr

A rat escapes toward safety in the city. (Pete Birkinshaw CC BY 2.0, via flickr)


Keeping tabs on New York City rats. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanized, and as global temperatures rise, we’re creating a perfect environment for rats. This according to Hofstra University biologist Michael Parsons, who notes that the rodents already cause over nine billion dollars in damage each year. He and his colleagues have developed a system for studying rats using tiny implanted microchips.

MICHAEL PARSONS (Hofstra University):

What we’re trying to do is understand how rats behave and carry pathogens at the individual level.


In the journal Frontiers in Public Health, he describes stations where the rats are automatically weighed and photographed, and frequently caught and examined for parasites and pathogens. It may be impossible to eradicate rats from cities, but new methods of surveillance and data collection could help to control them and monitor any emerging disease threats. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.