The New York City Health Department website isn’t just a great place to read the details of your favorite restaurant’s last sanitation review—even more exciting is the Rat Information Portal, or RIP, a set of tools for tracking, reporting, and exterminating the area’s notoriously ineradicable vermin. (Caution: Rodentphobes should under no circumstances access these maps.)
First off, you’ll want to get a sense of your neighborhood’s general infestation through the rat indexing system, which is based on rats’ tendency to populate entire city blocks and large properties as opposed to specific city buildings. The darker brown rectangles are places you wouldn’t want to walk past at night for fear of a small, greasy creature running over your shoe.
After that, you can get more details via an interactive heat map of rat inspection data by plugging in your address. It’s was here that I learned just how active and numerous the rats were just across Broadway, in a low-income housing complex. Thankfully, my own building turned up clean, but our adjacent southerly neighbors have been battling a persistent influx of rats on and off for years now. Kind of makes me wish I had logged on here while apartment hunting.
To be afforded such close scrutiny by city officials is surely a mark of distinction for local rats: Although in some ways a more nightmarish scourge of late, bedbugs haven’t enjoyed the same honor—the best you can do is check out a submission-based blog whose frightening array of red dots likely pales in comparison to the level of saturation experienced.
Nonetheless, we’d like to see New York step up their rat-tracking technology. Maybe, if we can get elephants and sharks on Twitter, we can start getting these little guys to Instagram the city’s labyrinthine sewer system. Or just Pinterest all the best bits of garbage they find.