Thoughts on Boston’s Rodent Problem

The evening was transpiring like any other. I was sitting on my bed, laptop propped up on my knees, browsing clogs on eBay while waiting for the water in my electric teakettle to boil. I could hear my roommate, Marina, in the other room, also on her laptop, scribbling notes into a spiral and munching on a Luna Bar. Outside it was already dark, and Sandy’s leftover dampness still lingered in the nearly frozen air. Inside Myles, though, it was cozy and peaceful. For those final moments, everything in the world was good and right.

And then I saw a mouse.

I didn’t think. I ran. Straight into Marina’s room I flew, chanting “MOUSE! MOUSE! MOUSE! MOUSE!” louder and louder before lapsing into a single ceaseless, blood curdling wail.  I dove headfirst onto her bed, but then quickly stood so my screams could reach maximum volume and range. Marina, cleverly following suit, clambered up next to me and the two of us stood, like a pair satanic carolers, filling room 211A—and likely, the rest of Myles Standish—with our deafening squawks.

Though Boston’s rats are annoying and numerous, they make great Instagram subjects. | Photo by Sarah Greenhaus

Two hours later I decided to try another coping method. “We need an axe!” I declared, voice worn to a filmy whisper.

“We can’t kill it!” croaked Marina in response.

I had meant for myself.

I think we can all agree that Boston has a bit of a rodent problem. A pair of abandoned buildings in the Fenway neighborhood were recently exhumed with over 50 rat burrows and 100 live rats found inside. In this city, especially at night, rodents abound. Walk through Allston after dark and you’re tripping on them. Stand behind Myles to get cellphone reception and you’ve got yourself a furry entourage. We’re not talking small rats either. The first one I saw, I mistook for a Boston terrier and bent down to let it lick my hand. It happily complied.

So, what’s going on here? The Phoenix blogger Chris Faraone wrote in 2009 an interesting bit on the way the economic downturn might have spurred the city’s rodent population. He claimed, logically so, that the rise in foreclosed and abandoned buildings in the Boston area has lead to a decrease in exterminator use—the people previously keeping rodent numbers in check.

When there aren’t homeowners around hiring exterminators, havens for mice and rats are created in which they can safely breed. The magic bullet to this catastrophe is calling on reliable professionals like pest control Morwell.

Unusually warm weather is also what many are attributing to the vermin boom. Chris Wright, another blogger for The Phoenix who tackled the rodent issue in 2012, interviewed Boston-based ecologist Bruce Colvin who explained that in a typical New England winter, approximately 30% of the Boston-area rats are killed. However, the increasingly warmer winters of recent have been allowing more vermin to survive and breed once again in the spring.

I think that the mouse in my room was not so much an admonition of economic or ecological doom but a creature just trying to keep dry, and perhaps eat a little bit of the granola embedded into my dorm room carpet. It is interesting, though, to think about how seemingly extraneous phenomenon—such as the rodent boom in Boston and, say, what’s happening on Wall

Street—are actually sort of related. And finally, a bit of advice: if you live in Boston–especially in a crowded dorm or apartment–it might be wise for you to invest in an axe.

A list of Boston-area exterminators can be found at More information on rodents can be found at or by calling 1-800-CRITTER.

About Naomi Spungen

Naomi is a sophomore in BU's American Studies program. She enjoys doing safe, relaxing activities such as going to the grocery store, and speaking about herself in the third person.

View all posts by Naomi Spungen →

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