Plastic Halloween rats arranged so that they appear to be consuming the flesh from the bones of a plastic human skeleton.
Got pitchforks? The giant rats will wait. (Photo Credit: CC BY/davidd/Flickr)

Living in urban squalor is its own purgatory, but things start to get hairy when giant rats invade. Like an urban legend that came to life, residents of the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, N.Y. – where hip-hop legend Jay-Z was raised – lived in fear of a 3-foot white rat that haunted their yards and their garbage until the rat was skewered by a pitchfork.

Housing Authority worker stabs giant rat

Housing Authority worker Jose Rivera, 48, was working on the Marcy Houses grounds when he encountered a rodent of unusual size. It was “covered in white fur and looked well-fed,” Rivera told the New York Daily News, and including its tremendous tail, the beast was at least three feet long.

“I hit it one time and it was still moving,” Rivera said. “I hit it another time and that’s when it died. I’m not scared of rats, but I was scared of being bitten.”

The 3-foot rat was dead at the end of Rivera’s pitchfork. As seen in the New York Daily News, there’s photographic evidence to back up Rivera’s story. According to Rivera, he’s constantly filling rat holes around Marcy Houses.

Visitors from Gambia

The Marcy Houses rat has been identified as a Gambian pouched rat after photo analysis by animal experts. These nocturnal rats are commonly kept as pets. They live seven or eight years and can grow to three feet and more than four pounds. Importation of Gambian pouched rats has been banned in the U.S. since 2003, when they were blamed for a monkeypox outbreak that made 100 people sick.

Beware the super rat

Dr. Paul Calle of the Wildlife Conservation Society believes the giant rat of Marcy Houses was likely an escaped or discarded pet. Residents are worried the Gambian rats will breed.

“(Gambian pouch rats) are a very social animal and live in big groups in the wild. Our Norway rats are the closest big rodents it could accompany,” Calle said.

Calle noted that because Gambian rats and Norway rats are from a different genus, reproduction would not be possible.

Residents have fought giant rats before

According to a Marcy Houses resident who declined to reveal her name to the Daily News, for fear of reprisal from the city or property management, the rats are very active in the area around Nostrand and Myrtle Avenue, even on local playgrounds.

“In one day eight big size rats were killed,” she said.

Resident Pam Davis, 43, said that the giant rats are brazen enough to show their faces during the day as well as at night.

“We don’t dodge bullets. We dodge rats. They’re so big, they should charge them rent.”

Beware the world’s largest rat


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