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America has a looming "ratpocalypse" problem

Photo: John Downer/Getty Images

Waves of rats, sensing their moment, are poised to overrun America. Urged on by warmer temperatures and failing policies to stem their constant rat orgies, the fuzzy little filthbags are flooding major cities in staggering numbers.

An article from The New Republic’s Emily Atkin provides figures for (and identifies the causes behind) a phenomenon charmingly dubbed, “the ratpocalypse.”

. . . as USA Today reported last year, major cities saw spikes in rodent-related business from 2013 to 2015. Calls to Orkin, the pest control service, were reportedly “up 61 percent in Chicago; 67 percent in Boston; 174 percent in San Francisco; 129 percent in New York City; and 57 percent in Washington, D.C


Rising temperatures give rats more time to breed, which is a problem when, as Atkin points out, “two rats in an ideal environment can turn into 482 million rats over a period of three years.” The many diseases they carry combines with the cost of repairing the damage their chewing and digging causes to city infrastructure (the article cites $19 billion spent on this in the year 2000, back when the idea of a ratpocalypse was just a glint in thousands of beady black eyes) to make up a pretty serious problem.

And it’s something that individual cities need help to fight. While the U.S. formerly had funding in place to assist with rodent control, the “Urban Rat Control” program was scrapped under Reagan. Without federal assistance, it’ll be hard for local governments to deal with the rats on their own.

The article’s certainly alarming, but we should be sure not to place blame where it isn’t deserved. The rats, like every society-collapsing threat, are just sidling up to the table for their chance at causing potentially world-ending calamity. Like so many Fortune 500 CEOs before them, they’re only trying to capitalize on shortsighted federal programs, which fail to address environmental and public health issues, for their gain.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.