It's pretty funny when a story about over a dozen rats scurrying around a West Village Taco Bell-KFC location is the leading story on the local news (okay, there was a mention of an off-duty police officer shooting a neighbor, too). The footage (see here at WNBC), while totally repelling, is also amazing. And that rat dangling from the chair? No wonder everyone is swarming to 6th Avenue and West 4th Street to catch a glimpse of those huge suckers!

2007_02_gymnastrat.jpgThen again, seeing rats in a fast food joint is sickening, but it's a story for most everyone: You can hate corporations, belittle junk food, and decry over the city's slowness when it comes to dealing with garbage and rat issues! Taco Bell-KFC's parent company made a statement emphasizing this was an isolated incident and that the location wouldn't be opened until sanitized, but they did blame the problem on basement construction. However, the Daily News spoke to a former employee who was allegedly fired for complaining about health safety! Marcus Bonner, who now works at the McDonald's across the street, said, "There's a hole in the wall behind the grill. The rats come through the back of the building where the trash is kept."

Residents all agree that the area is gross and filled with garbage. One reader who lives nearby said that when walking home last night, "There was an army of laborers/employees quickly filling up a truck full of Taco Bell appliances, garbage, etc." Here are some more of our favorite comments:

Spud Spudly

- When I lived in the Village I once saw the fountain in Washington Square Park FULL of rats. It was like a moving rat carpet. Another small park with a major rat problem is the triangle on Broadway near 110th street.
- Andrew J. Lederer: i saw the largest cockroach i've ever seen indoors stroll confidently from behind something in that location some years back.

i've been tempted to give the place another chance 'cause it's conveniently located but so far, i haven't.
- Gary Wallce:I would have to argue that there are some adult rats that are definitely bigger than others. We're not dealing w/ regular scientific conditions here... this is NYC. I've definitely seen rats that could be chihuahuas if they had longer legs and shorter tails.

And the Post's article started, "Clearly, the cat wasn't doing his job." Uh, unless that cat was a cougar or had about eight other cats in his crew, we're not sure even the toughest tom cat could have matched up with these rats - they are huge!

Photograph of curious New Yorker peering into the Taco Bell-KFC on Sixth Avenue by Bebeto Matthews/AP