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City czar says rat academy ready to root out rodents

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The MTA is gearing up once more for yet another offensive in the seemingly eternal struggle against city subway rats.

Eric Barthell of the New York City Transit Authority told the MTA Transit Committee Monday that the rat squad is preparing new super Roach Motel−like boxes in the Franklin Street station. Poison will be in wrappers that stay clean as opposed to grimy and uninviting anti−rat substances left in track beds.

But first, Barthell said, he wanted to debunk a number of rat “facts” that long ago became part of urban mythology like alligators living in the sewer system.

Rats are not as big as cats. They are rarely over one pound and 16 inches long. When they are frightened, they fluff up their fur and look bigger.

They do not have it made in the subway. Soil, not concrete, is their natural environment. Many subway rats die from poison, get run over and expire from stress or in fights with other rats

Rats get so much food that they live to a ripe age — five to six months. They are not in the millions down there. There is no official estimate, but a majority live above ground and venture into tunnels in search of food.

Barthell pointed to Bobbie Corrigan, the city’s rat czar who attended the meeting, suggesting he was the source of much of the information.

“Bobbie conducts what we call the Rat Academy,” Barthell said.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 136.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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