Mice and rats

About Mice and rats

Rats and mice are common, but preventable. In NYC, rats tend to be seen on streets and sidewalks, and in backyards and basements, while mice are almost always found inside homes.

Rats and mice thrive where there are sources of food and shelter and where property owners fail to prevent and adequately respond to their presence.

This site provides survey data on the prevalence of mice or rats inside and outside of buildings. This information is collected by the US Census Bureau through the NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey, and by the NYC Health Department through Community Health Surveys.

Mice, Rats and Health

The presence of rats in communities has been historically associated with a variety of infectious diseases. Today, rats are principally recognized for their contribution to neighborhood stress, poor quality of life, contamination of food, and for their contribution to the destruction of infrastructure. Mice can contaminate food, and their urine and dander are potent allergens, which can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma in sensitive people.

About the Data and Indicators

Data on mice and rats come from the Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS), and the Community Health Survey (CHS). Because these are sample surveys, all data derived from them are estimates, not exact counts.

The accuracy of survey data depends on the participants’ ability to recall and correctly report mice or rat sightings.

More extensive data are available on the Rat Information Portal. Users can search results from Health Department inspections for rats at the level of individual properties, and view neighborhood maps by visiting: http://nyc.gov/rats.


Simple steps can be taken to safely control these pests:

  • Report housing conditions such as water leaks, holes or cracks in walls, floors and ceilings and signs of rodents (droppings, or gnaw marks) to property owners. When owners fail to address these conditions, NYC residents can call 311 to report the problem.
  • Use caulk and plaster to seal holes and cracks in walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Store food in sealed containers, and do not put out food for stray cats, pigeons or squirrels.
  • Remove garbage daily from apartments, and put garbage on the curb as close to pickup time as possible. Use hard plastic or metal cans with tight fitting lids.
  • Reduce clutter and piling of newspapers and cardboard.
  • Keep landscaped areas around properties free of tall weeds and trim shrubs that are close to the ground.
  • Control pests safely and effectively. Commercial and multi-unit property owners must hire a pest control company to place rodent baits. Employ pest control services that use preventive measures - not just pesticides. Rodent bait should only be used in enclosed tamper-proof containers.
  • Get together with your neighbors to address mice and rat problems on your block or neighborhood. Clean up several yards in the same area, and encourage buildings near you to work with you to reduce garbage problems, weeds, or clutter that attract rodents. This way, re-infestation from nearby rodents is less likely.

Key Messages

Beginning in 2008, the Department of Health began to systematically and pro-actively evaluate the presence of rats in Bronx neighborhoods in a program referred to as “rat indexing.” By rapidly notifying property owners, providing detailed advice on how to improve conditions, and by engaging the public, the Department now encourages whole blocks and neighborhoods to simultaneously concentrate their resources to maximize the effect of extermination and cleanup efforts.

The Department of Health offers training and information on safe and effective pest control to communities, pest management professionals, restaurant operators and building superintendents. Visit our websites listed below for more information.

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Children in homes with mice (age 1-13)

The presence of mice or rats in the home is often associated with poor housing maintenance. These pests can contaminate food and worsen asthma.

Adults reporting mice or rats inside

Mice and rats are a source of household allergens connected to developing or worsening asthma.

Adults reporting mice or rats outside

Mice and rats are a source of household allergens connected to developing or worsening asthma.

Homes with mice or rats in the building

The presence of mice or rats in the home is often associated with poor housing maintenance. These pests can contaminate food and worsen asthma.

Litter basket coverage

Sanitation supports public health by providing clean, healthy public spaces for people to live, work, and get around. Litter baskets, or trash cans, are associated with a decrease in littering. Enclosed, non-wire baskets are generally better than wire baskets.