hey little buddy


There are rodents in the New York City subway system. The rodentocide notices attached to the poles between the tracks on most subway station are hung really high for a good reason. Nobody would want them to be eaten by the mice and rats that live on the tracks below.
I tend to go all the way to the end of the 50th street station when waiting for the 1/9 train to go uptown. I want the last door of the last car to stop right in front of me. There are always seats available and this is also the car where the performers count their money, where the homeless travel with their mobile homes. My favorite car.
The area on the end of the platform is a bit narrow. What appears to be a trash collection room has been added here some time ago, leaving the platform to be maybe 20 inches or so. I was the only person waiting there, right next to an almost eaten chicken bone.
The shadow that jumped out from around the corner, straight from under the door of the trash room was not large, maybe 10 inches or so. It was a fat, almost anthrazit colored animal.
"Hey buddy" was what I heard myself say, as I almost jumped off the platform.
The animal must have been as surprised as I was, as it ran really quickly towards the little service ladder at the end of the platform and then jumped onto the tracks. I lost a bit of orientation. When I looked down onto the tracks again, there it was again, the 10 inch rat, a young buddy, rushing to get to a perfectly sized pipe opening.
As soon as he disappeared in it, the tracks to the left of me lit up reflecting the heads of the oncoming train. I was glad that I had not accidentally jumped off the platform...
I have seen more courageous subway rats in the past. One time a cat sized rodent terrorized several straphangers on the 96th street station. The animal was very courageous, very territorial... it was also pretty late at night...
Hmm, it all sounds much worse than it was...
really... (Oh, and please forgive me, but i kicked the chicken bone down onto the tracks, so little buddy does not have to risk his life to climb up that emergency ladder onto the platform again... at least not for a day or two...)


Whenever you see a homeless person, don't you always wonder "are they making more than I am?" Since when did being homeless make it into the top grossing careers?

Of course there is the other side of it, people who need help. Here's a book about people who need help:


So let me explain why a trip on the subway now costs $2.

Somehow the city has to pay for that rodentcide.

Somehow the city wouldn't have to use so much rodentcide, if PEOPLE WOULDN'T LITER CHICKEN BONES AND CANDY WRAPPERS AND SODA CUPS in the @*(^#*@(#&*@# subway!!!

thanks (i know you didn't put the chicken bone there, sorry)

If it was truly the size of a cat, then it was not a rat that you saw. Rattus Norvegicus (the common subway rat, also what we rat lovers keep as pets) DO NOT (and can not) get that large. The typical life span of a rat on the streets of NYC is about 6 months, during which time they can reach a possible (and very rare) maximum size of about 8-9 inches (not including tail). Average weight of a subway rat would be about 12 ounces.

Pet rats (same species), on the other hand, live an average of 2 years, and average the same length as subway rats, but generally weight much more -- males are typically just over a pound, and females just under. I've had about 20 pet rats and done rescue work with over 300, and the largest I've ever come across was Curtis, a severly obese "jumbo" agouti. He weighed nearly 2 pounds and was 9 inches in length (minus tail). He was quite sickly due to the extra weight and never made it to his second birthday, having suffered a stroke at 18 months. Curtis was terribly sweet and sensitive...a real snuggly guy and a good friend to me. You can see him here:

I can pretty much guarantee that no rat you see on the subway will ever be as big as Curtis, and he wasn't anything close to the size of a cat.

Our eyes play tricks on us when our minds see something unexpected and pehaps a little bit feared...but the "size of a cat" rats are truly an urban myth. :)

wow, I can see that Curtis is larger than several species of dinosaurs. : )
Yes, the rat I saw on the platform could have been the size of a pigeon, or maybe a squirrel almost?...
It could have been a squirrel on a late shopping spree...

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This page contains a single entry by Witold published on July 22, 2003 10:33 PM.

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