Manhattan Rats Petition de Blasio for Reform Following New Study on Segregation

Dec. 3, 2017

The underbelly of the city has been abuzz with chatter, as cellar-dwellers and foragers alike debate the results of a new rat population study by Fordham University graduate student Matthew Combs. Combs’ research revealed that most Manhattan rats tend to stay within the same neighborhood over their lifetimes, rarely straying more than a few blocks from where they were born. As a result, the urban rat population has diverged into two distinct sub-groups of “uptown” and “downtown” rats, divided by differences in multiple dimensions from education to median income to even dietary preferences. Downtown rats in particular are known to especially love pizza ascompared to their uptown counterparts.

The recently formed pressure group UrbanVermin, a coalition of primarily uptown rats, has already begun to petition Mayor Bill de Blasio to reverse this trend. Their spokesrat Mr. Ratburn condemned the mayor for not doing enough to improve social mobility. “Many uptown colonies simply do not enjoy the same scavenging opportunities as downtown colonies do because the distribution of trash across the city is so uneven.” The disparity was also compounded by chronic underinvestment in a subway system constantly racked by delays. “Even though there are a lot of good nesting areas in Midtown, commuting to the nearest quality trash pile becomes a nightmare.” Consequently, the expansion of uptown and downtown communities have mostly halted at Midtown, divided by the zone between 14th Street and 59th Street. “We hope that the mayor can work with the Department of Sanitation to explore more equitable ways of citywide waste disposal. In addition, there should be more funding at the city level for supporting positive rat-related research. So far, most rat-related research is on pest control. We need to change it.”

While some see the gulf between uptowners and downtowners as inevitable, Professor Ratigan, the chair of Columbia University’s Rodentities Department, holds room for optimism. “Although we may have our differences, we can all trace our ancestry to the same forebears who sailed across the Atlantic from the Old Country. We are all Rattus norvegicus.”

Original article: Spatial population genomics of the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) in New York City

Readers interested in a more serious discussion of urban segregation can refer to the following: