Now comes a video of dozens of white rats likely tasting freedom for the first time over near Hudson River Park.
According to our tipster, this 12-second rat rodeo clip (might want to keep the foil snug on that edamame falafel kimchi burrito until after you click) was taken around 8 p.m. yesterday evening on an elevated patch of grass next to 12th Avenue near 57th Street, next to the West Side Highway.
"Called the appropriate authorities and was told something along the lines of, 'This is NYC, there are rats here,' " says the anonymous tipster.
But according to Jason Munshi-South, an associate professor of biology at Fordham University who studies wildlife in New York City, these rats are probably someone's pets.
"White coat color would not be impossible in wild Norway rats…but certainly not at that frequency in one place in NYC. You can see juvenile rats running around in the video, so I think someone just dumped their captive, reproductive colony out in the median," Munshi-South told us in an email.
"Yet another tip-off is that the rats are just milling around above ground in the middle of the day. They are busy exploring this new environment (and probably confused). You will see wild rats out in the day, especially in big colonies, but they will be going in and out of their burrows. These rats don't seem to even have any burrows."
Munshi-South says it is unlikely that the rats are from a lab or "contaminated" with any infectious disease, and that there's is "probably less of a disease risk than the typical NYC rat."
We've contacted the Health Department and the Hudson River State Park Trust to see if either of them saved the rats. If not, Munshi-South says their hours could be numbered.
"Those rats are not going to last very long if someone doesn't rescue them. They'll be run over by cars, eaten by hawks, or attacked by wild rats. Clearly out of their element."
[UPDATE // 3:18 PM] A spokesman for Hudson River Park Trust tells us that the park does not maintain the medians next to the park, and that the park has not received any complaints about white rats. (A uniformed man with a shovel appears in a video of the rats posted by a commenter below.)