Tough as nails: New York City street rats
The AP asks "Did New York's rats relocate after Sandy?" Experts are of two minds. The city health department collects extensive surveys of rats and found that, although large storms can flush out rats, many also drown. In the end "the net effect of large storms is often a decrease in the rat population".
Some fear that the rats relocated into new territory and there has been a rise in calls to exterminators. According to a pest control expert "'They are adaptable. They can swim. They can move distances,' he said, citing radio telemetry studies showing that rats can move several miles if displaced by environmental conditions."
But this being New York, even the rats are resilient. "I have seen them dive over 70 feet (21 metres), swim 500 yards (450 metres), give me the finger and head for the hills," a rat hunting expert said, "Hurricane Sandy is not going to affect these critters."
The article mentions a serious blow to the rodent population, however- the loss of thousands of research mice in the basement of New York University's Langone Medical Center.
Original caption: In this Jan. 18, 2013 photo provided by the NYU Langone Medical Center, a researcher holds a laboratory mouse in a research building at the hospital's complex in New York. …more During Superstorm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012, a storm surge flooded the basement housing some 7,000 cages of mice used for studying cancer, diabetes, brain development and other health issues. Each cage held up to five of the little rodents, and even four months later, nobody knows exactly how many perished.
AP reports: "Now, about 50 scientists at the NYU Langone Medical Center are going through the slow process of replacing them. What they lost in a few minutes one terrible night in October will take more than a year to recover, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars."
Far from the gritty streets, these mice are kept in ultra-sterile labs and their lives are closely controlled. For some researchers it's a devastating setback. One scientist remarked about having to start over "The silver lining of the whole storm, what little there is, is the fact it allows me to refocus myself," he said. Now he can "go after what is interesting to me now, not what was interesting to me two years ago."