New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rats Gone Wild

Meet Oscar at work. Oscar is a Miniature Schnauzer who lives in the Village. Unfortunately, we have a quite visible rat population in Washington Square Park, particularly at night. They are frequently seen even out in the open, near people, away from bushes, skittering about. The numbers of rats fluctuates, largely depending on the Parks Department's efforts at baiting and picking up trash, which is a big attraction to rats. Trash pickup is never adequate - click here for Garbage a la Mode. Oscar goes crazy when set loose in the shrubbery of the park - he has caught and killed as many as 10-20 rats in one evening. He will chase them, dig for them, track them around trash cans - he is relentless, tireless and tenacious in ferreting them out. However, rats are quite astute and can hear him coming. His owner, Andrea, has at times experimented by removing his tags - he then becomes a formidable stealth ratter and his success rate soars. Schnauzers were originally bred in Germany in the 1800s as "ratters" to keep down the vermin around farms. Miniature Schnauzers are the result of crossbreeding of the Standard Schnauzer to produce a smaller version that could live more easily as a house pet but still hunt vermin. This breed is the 10th most popular in the United States and is well suited to city apartment living. Imagine Oscar at the Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India where rats are worshipped and 20,000 or so run loose. The temple pays tribute to the rat goddess, Karni Mata. Click here for an extensive article. I don't really recommend it, but if you have the stomach for it, see a video here ...

11 comments:

RD said...

This has to be one of the most informative posts you've put up. I'd no idea that schnauzers were rat hunters, and the rat video was unbelievable. If only the NY rats could catch a boat to India! Wow...this temple must be what all rats dream about. Isn't Oscar's human worried that Oscar may catch a disease during his hunts?

Brian said...

rd - Thanks. Oscar's owner has spoken to the vet - he said there is no danger of transmission of anything from rat to dog in his activities.

joey Joey said...

Nice to see Oscar is still around doing his job! Is he working alone or does he still have a partner?

An Honest Man said...

The way the eyes shine in the photograph is quite something!

Patricia said...

I have had schnauzers in the past and they are just wonderful dogs. I don't have any rats in my area (well...visible anyway) but I have wild turkeys, deer, raccoons, possum, etc. Schnauzers are ineffective against these!

• Eliane • said...

Oscar deserves his own medal as employee of the month for the Parks Department.

susan said...

Such a cutie! But I've never seen one without "docked" ears. Although he does have a docked tail.

I wonder who decided that dogs need to be surgically altered to look good. I had a cocker spaniel with a docked tail....but I'm not sure I would do it again....I mean...cutting off their tail! I'm not sure if they are anesthesized or not as mine was docked before I bought her. I hope so.

X!ne said...

I don't know if it's just because it's summer, but I feel like there are more rats than usual running around the City.

That temple in India is pretty fascinating. But when I went there I was sad to see many of the rats looking a bit sickly and having patches of hair that fell out. People in that video talk about them being clean but I think the rats in the subway look cleaner. Different kind of rat though.

Anonymous said...

Oscar is the Village HERO. I have seen him kill rats and when they see him comming they go a runnin

Anonymous said...

I am Oscar's mother Andrea Mitchell and I assure you through my VET that is is the luckiest pooch in NYC. He is allowed to do what is was born to do. He has a great temperment, listens, doesn't bark, loves children, and I have never seen him show his teeth.

It was explaned to me that "its like having a athletic child who never gets to play sports, so letting him rat, is good for him".. Oscar's official name is OSCARgator!
he is in the park every night, so we will see you all there!

Tina said...

OSCAR RULES!! What a true American hero,, keep up the good work!
Auntie Tina