Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mapping Rats

From Time Magazine online: Mapping the Rats in New York City, by Christine Gorman.
Michael Mills, a veteran health inspector in New York City, helps create a map of the city you won't find in any guidebook: a rat map. That's right, a map of the New York neighborhoods that rodent populations call home.

The city's rat map was first introduced a year ago, with an intensive pilot program in the Bronx. Mills and other inspectors scoured the streets, building by building, cataloging rat hot spots — places that show so-called active rat signs, such as lived-in burrows, fresh droppings, telltale gnaw marks on plastic garbage bags — in an effort to target rodent-control measures more effectively. That geocoding information was entered into each inspector's handheld indexing computer and aggregated with similar data from all across the borough.

The New York City Department of Health and Hygiene provides a Rat Information Portal. From there you can pull up the Rat Map and retrieve rat data by borough, community district, zip code, or specific address.

Note the cute little rat icon that pops up when updating the map.

The most interesting book I have read on rats... OK, really the only book I have ever read on rats, is Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. I enjoyed reading this book, and not just because of the great map cover:

Sullivan provides a compact history of rats in North America, but focuses primarily on New York City. His "field studies" include spending weeks in alleys observing the daily life of rats, and riding with "pest control technicians".

Publishers Weekly said, "Like any true New Yorker, Sullivan is able to convey simultaneously the feelings of disgust and awe that most city dwellers have for the scurrying masses that live among them."

HT to La Gringissima for the Time article.

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At Monday, December 22, 2008 , Blogger Michael5000 said...

The impressive thing is, Michael Mills doesn't NEED to be doing that. He's made more than enough money from his work with R.E.M. He must just be passionate about vermin control.


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