10 Facts about New York City Rats

Written by Mark Rausch

They Came Through Ellis Island

Rats originated in China, and have been in New York City since the colonial days. Arriving in droves searching for a better life, they found only fierce competition. In Joseph Mitchell’s famous 1944 expose “Rats on the Waterfront,” he cataloged three different species: the brown rat, the black rat, and the Alexandrian rat. The brown rat is the most vicious of all, having driven out or killed off the other two types. Their teeth are stronger than iron or copper, and their incisors grow five inches every year.