Oh rats!

As I was perusing YouTube I came across a video from National Geographic that I must admit was fascinating while at the same time disturbing. The video describes how rats are able to travel from the sewer into your toilet.

Although this is reportedly an uncommon occurence, I will be sure to look before I sit from now on.

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Lovely little creatures, aren't they?

The hazard of a rat in the toilet isn't that it'll bite you on the bottom, but that it'll escape into the house, leaving a trail of dangerous sewage-borne bacteria as it goes.

Your children or pets might pick up an illness that way and spread it. Or the rat might find its way into your kitchen, and, while looking for food, leave a bacterial trail across surfaces, utensils, etc. You might never know that you had a little stranger in your house, and, like the Air BnB guests from hell who steal your belongings or invite their hundred closest friends over for parties, Ratty won't care about social media reviews.

One could devise mechanical means such as solenoid-operated valves, to keep Ratty & his pals out of your plumbing. But any such devices only introduce complications that could go wrong at any time, causing your toilet to back up unexpectedly.

Realistically the best way to minimize the risk of these kinds of unpleasant and unsanitary surprises, is to maintain municipal sewer systems to a high standard. For that, we have to be willing to pay taxes that are sufficient to support a civilized society.

Every time you hear politicians promising lower and lower taxes, remind yourself that failure to maintain the infrastructure of civilization is a shortcut to a Hobbesian life that is "nasty, brutish, and short."

Thanks! As we see, NYC's rat problem is closely associated with its refuse disposal practices.

Those large dumpsters were originally a boon to public health when they were invented in the 1930s, but they only work if they are kept tightly closed. Today most of them are left open and become rat feasts. So, solution #1 is to regulate the dumpsters so they have tight-fitting lids that are self-closing after people deposit refuse in them.

The huge piles of plastic trash bags that are universal in New York, are a compromise for dealing with weekly refuse collection from buildings that lack the storage space for proper containers. The solution to that is to introduce wheelie-bins, regulate those so the lids are kept closed, and empty them daily: but the cost would be substantially higher than New Yorkers are apparently willing to pay.

Food storage and sloppy food handling in restaurants and grocery stores, are two more major contributors to rat infestations, along with littering of edible items. There are obvious fixes for those issues as well, plus or minus getting people to change their bad habits.

All it's going to take is a novel rodent-borne disease outbreak that causes thousands of fatalities in the city, and people will start taking these issues as seriously as they deserve.