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Starving NYC Rats Ate Trees During Polar Vortex Winter Aprl 2, 2014
City rat
New York City rats took to eating through the bark of some trees to find enough food to survive the harsh winter of 2013-14.
The past winter, dominated by the polar vortex, was so harsh that it drove New York City rats to eat trees to survive, according to a U.S. Forest Service scientist.

“With the deep snow and the cold winter, probably they didn’t have access to the normal food supply and it was a lot colder this winter,” research ecologist Rich Hallett told WNYC.

“So they went after the trees.” The tenacious rodents gnawed through the bark to get to a sugary layer for nourishment and energy.

In some of the most extreme cases, the rats can chew all the way around the base of a trunk in a practice called girding, which usually kills the tree.

But experts warn that some of the coldest winter weather on record is not likely to have made a significant dent in the rat population.

Photo: File