The Things You learn while writing
Since the beginning of the Magicae series, I’ve done my best to give as much realism as possible to the fantastical elements present in the novels. Occasionally, I come across interesting research points that help deliver something original and thought-provoking into the storyline. In Book Five, the Cthulhu cult, known as the Crimson Brotherhood, has weaponized a group of New York rats and morphed them into Lovecraftian monsters.
Book 5 Research Notes:
Really Big Rats!
The northern Luzon giant cloud rat (Phloeomys pallidus), also known as the northern Luzon slender-tailed cloud rat, is a large species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is only found in Luzon, the Philippines. They weigh 5 lbs on average and are commonly 2 1/2 foot long. They are so big that they are hunted for food by the natives.
New York Rats! (from wiki)
Rats are elusive by nature, and public health officials have not developed any reliable way to estimate their numbers. However, a 2014 study by Jonathan Auerbach, which was reported in the Royal Statistical Society‘s Significance magazine, estimated that there were closer to 2 million rats in the city. This deposes the often-repeated statistic that there are more rats than people in the five boroughs of New York City (8.4 million in 2014), with some estimates putting the number of rats far higher at as many as five rats per person (33.6 million).
Rat Incidents in New York – More than an urban legend
- The problem of rats in New York City is a longstanding one. In 1860, The New York Times reported that a newborn infant had died prior to rats eating part of its face and one foot. The NYC Health Department undertook an anti-rat campaign in 1921 that involved rat-proofing as well as trapping and killing rats.
- Rats in New York have been known to overrun restaurants after hours and crawl up sewer pipes, as well as enter apartments through toilets. They have attacked homeless people, eaten cadavers in the city morgue, and bitten infants and young children to get food off their faces. Babies are frequent victims, especially if left alone with food or a bottle.
- In 2003, a fire station in Queens was condemned and demolished after rats had taken over the building. In 2007, a morning news program featured a live report of a pack of rats overrunning a pair of fast food restaurants in Greenwich Village. In one of the restaurants, a KFC, numerous rats so severely infested the restaurant that they were visible in groups from the street, through the windows.
- According to New York City Health Department statistics, there were 86 rat bites reported in 2010. Many bites go unreported. In 2011, a video of a rat climbing on a sleeping man’s face on the subway went viral. Rats are so common that ex-Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer quipped in 2013, “The rats don’t scurry. They walk right up to you and say, ‘How are you, Mr. Borough President?'”
- In 2014, New York City Councilman Mark D. Levine said at a public hearing that “We’ve had rats who are going into cars and eating out electrical cables. We have rats that are entering homes.” He described the problem as “epidemic” on some streets in Manhattan. That year, YouTube videos of rats on subway tracks and in a subway car in New York City went viral, as did videos of rats in a Dunkin’ Donuts in Manhattan. In June 2014, residents at adjacent Upper West Side buildings started a rent strike, demanding an end to the rat problem. Also in 2014, Allerton Coops in Bronx Park East received three Notices of Violation from the Health Department and was fined for their inadequate response to a severe rat infestation.
- In 2015, a YouTube video of a rat carrying a slice of pizza in the subway went viral. The video was trending worldwide on Twitter and Facebook within 15 hours of the YouTube upload, garnered 5 million views within two days, and spawned similar staged videos with trained rats such as Selfie Rat.
- In early 2016, another video of a rat climbing on a sleeping subway rider was uploaded to social media. The uploader was criticized for his choice to film the incident and post it online rather than intervene.