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Diving rats

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Video of the Week #67 November 1st, 2012:

From: Did NYC rats survive hurricane Sandy? by Bora Zivkovic at A Blog Around The Clock.


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, much speculation was aired about the effect of the storm on New York City rats, especially those living in the subway and the sewers. Did they all drown? Or did they manage to swim up to the safety of the street surface? The story is much more complicated (so read the blog post), but yes, rats can swim. And, as this video shows, rats can even dive. If domesticated rats can be trained to dive and have fun doing it, surely a wild rat can dive if life is in danger.

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  1. 1. jackvandijk 3:06 pm 11/1/2012

    Rats also know to leave a sinking ship, so expect them to leave New York City altogether.

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  2. 2. Pazuzu 2:59 pm 11/2/2012

    We knew that rats could swim. This video shows rats in a controlled water bath that was set up for them. The temperature would have been suitable. But that sea water would probably have been quite cold and many would have died of hypothermia. Furthermore, there are other animals living in tunnels and sewers, e.g. cats and dogs. I fear there were many deaths, and I worry about their rotting corpses. Of course, there are many sources of pollution feeding nasty microbes in these flood waters; raw sewage, garbage, etc.

    The author says that “much speculation was aired…” Where? I looked but failed to find it.

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  3. 3. Bora Zivkovic 3:42 pm 11/2/2012

    If you click on the link to the post, there are numerous links (both at the very beginning, at the very end, and also in the comments) to other coverage, some of which contains myths. I also saw quite a lot of speculation on Facebook and Twitter which prompted me to research and write the post in the first place.

    In the post, I also mention the effect of sea water, and effect of fast-running water, though I am not as worried about the temperature as much.

    Disease angle was covered more in the HuffPostLive segment (also linked in the comments of the post). If warm and wet, the carcasses will rot. Some will be eaten by other rats. If warm and dry, the carcasses will mummify.

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  4. 4. marclevesque 7:25 pm 11/2/2012

    The top comment on YouTube for this video says …

    “You people clearly aren’t very perceptive. These rats are far from stressed out. Look at their body language, look at the fact one of them is … then returning to the surface to casually groom themselves.”

    That argument seemed valid until I noticed that the opening frame before the video starts playing and the last bit of the video when the rats are grooming themselves both appear to be from a different video than the rest of the shots. Look at 0:18 to 0:27 when the camera is above the water and you can clearly see the white pipe below the surface the rats are balancing on, but from 0:52 to 1:02 when the rats are grooming you cannot see the white pipe anymore, and if you look at their feet they appear to be standing on some kind of flat dark colored block surface.

    So are the rats stressed out? I don’t know. But they’re surely more stressed out than I first thought.

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  5. 5. Jerzy v. 3.0. 7:07 am 11/6/2012

    Rats can dive. It is even said that rats often colonize buildings by swimming through the loo!

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