I am very disappointed to learn that the species of rat most common to New York City is the brown rat or Rattus norvegicus and not the black rat, Rattus Rattus. The repetition of genus and species seemed to fit so nicely with the popular: New York, New York, so nice they named it twice.
The rat commonly seen in New York is the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), aka the common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat. It is one of the world's most common rats. The name is actually a misnomer as they do not originate from Norway. After human beings, the rat is the most successful animal on the planet, having inhabited virtually every country and land mass. Read more here.
Rat also is used to characterize New York's landlords and store owners - see the use of the large inflated rat in my story Attention. For those who want to embrace the rat in order to appear edgy, there are establishments that use the rat for imaging and naming, such as the trendy SoHo shop Yellow Rat Bastard. According to the New York Times:
When the flagship store opened in 1994, it installed cages with several dozen rats in its front window to create buzz. The rats were eventually removed from the window, but many employees said the rats continued to run around the store and the basement storeroom.
The shop encouraged graffiti artists to tag the exterior of the shop. Ironically, in 2008, the store agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit over unpaid wages and overtime, paying back wages to more than a thousand employees.
We have so many rats in New York City, that in a way it is a shame we do not have our own species. It would be so befitting of a city with such a large ego to be able to lay claim to Rattus rattus...
Photo note: I ran across the piece of graffiti in the photo on East 2nd Street in the East Village.
Related Postings: I have done numerous stories on rats: i'm lovin' it, Rats Gone Wild, Rats R Us, Attention and Wildlife Control.