If you live in New York City, you have seen your fair share of rats. There’s the infamous pizza rat, Scabby the Rat, the recently appointed Rat Czar, and just an overall deluge of the (I think) adorable critters skittering about the city that never sleeps. Now, you can seek out those rats in a real-life version of Pokemon Go, if you so desire, thanks to a new feature in a widely used app—though I would advise against trying to catch them, for several reasons.
The Transit app provides a litany of information for car-less commuters in more than 300 cities, with accurate train schedules, rideshare options, available scooters for rent, and more. It’s been widely praised as one of the best transit app options, and even though it’s not exclusive to New York City, nor is it even its official transit app, it’s got an added feature for those living in the Big Apple: Rat tracking.
Dubbed “the great NYC Subway Rat Detector,” the feature was rolled out in early October after the Transit app “first started asking subway riders to report rats in August,” Stephen Miller, a spokesperson for Transit, told Kotaku over email. Miller said that results are updated daily and show reports from the past 30 days, with a dedicated page for people to check the rattiest subway stations, input specific stations to see rodent info, and learn more about rats in general, like when the little cuties are most active (“swarms [peak] just after 2 am”).
Most notable, however, is how the Rat Detector works in the app itself, which is sending X (formerly Twitter) into a tailspin as people report their findings. Simply click on a nearby subway station, or one you use daily, and you’ll see details on departing trains and their destinations, as well as a little rat icon. Click that icon and you’ll get some info on the rodent sitch: Rockefeller Center, which is near Kotaku’s offices, has “very few rats” but is still ranked 177th out of 445 NYC subway stations. It’s gotten 128 ratings from Transit users within the last month.
My personal subway station (I’m not telling you which) ranks pretty low, with just 12% of reports claiming “so many” rats were spotted at it within the last month. I personally love rats—my co-ed soccer team is called The Rats, and I’ve also rescued several injured pigeons (flying rats), so I think this feature is adorable. Granted, I still shriek if a rat darts out of a rustling garbage bag during a post-bar walk home, but I am personally, firmly, on the side of the rodents here.
If you want to use this app to either spot or avoid NYC’s rodent population, the choice is yours. I wish I could pretend to catch them in little Pokéballs and then set their little digital forms free at a beautiful rat sanctuary where no one ever tries to poison them and they can eat all the garbage they want. A girl can dream.