NYC rats: 10 need-to-know facts, including how great pizza is for them

But #PizzaRat is just the tip of what you need to know about the subway’s favorite critter.

There are millions of rats in the city, but right now New Yorkers only care about one.

Pizza rat is not just a viral video star. He’s a full-on sensation.

“What is Pizza Rat?,” is the third-most common question about rats on Google. He’s been a trending topic on Twitter. The world, in short, has taken notice.

This begs an obvious question: Do rats even like pizza?

“They tend to be somewhat afraid of new foods at first,” said Jason Munshi-South, an associate professor at Fordham University who specializes in biological sciences. “Whatever they’re used to eating, even as soon as they’re eating solid food, that’s what they eat.”

One can assume, then, that the determined creature was not a stranger to pizza.

But is the classically NYC delicacy really good for rats? South says it is.

“A rat that has access to pizza regularly is going to find it to be a good food,” he said. “It has fat, in terms of the cheese, it has carbs, and it has protein from the cheese so in some ways it’s fairly high quality food.”

Here are 10 facts about rats in New York City:


1. There are fewer rats in the subway than you think.

While there are an estimated millions of rats in New York City most are not hanging in the subway. Rats prefer parks over the subway. There they can burrow in the grass and under bushes, a much more comfortable living situation in the city where space is scarce.


2. Rats try to eat a well-balanced diet.

You may think that rats will eat anything you throw away – and that’s mostly true – but most rats can sense whether they’re taking in their proper daily nutrients, according to Jason Munshi-South, a professor at Fordham University.


3. Rats are afraid of trying new foods.

Pizza rat seemed a little too eager when shlepping his pizza down the stairs. Had he tried it before? Is pizza rat even a he?


4. New York City rats thrive on trash.

If you see a lot of rats in your local subway station they’re probably there for the grub. That said if you want to keep clear of rodents keep your area as clean as possible.


5. Pizza makes for a great food for rats.

Pizza is packed with protein, carbs and fat, much of what a rat needs in its daily diet.


6. Rats need water and love fruits and vegetables.


7. You’ll find the most rats in the subway during the winter.

Rats like to head down into the subway during the winter to escape the cold.


8. Rats like to live where they’re not bothered.

Rats need their space too you know. They tend to avoid people, especially large crowds. Next time you see a rat don’t fret, they’re just as annoyed to see them as you are of them.


9. Rats make good pets.

Most domesticated rats are clean, easy to train and can learn a variety of tricks.


10. No one really knows how many rats are in New York City.

There are many estimates on how many rats live in New York City. From 2 million to 9 million, no one could really say for certain.

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