Lower East Side Rats Coming to Discovery’s “Human Planet”

Posted on: April 21st, 2011 at 6:18 am by

The Lower East Side and its notorious rat population makes a primetime cable appearance Sunday evening during the final episode of Human Planet, the co-produced BBC/Discovery Channel followup to Planet Earth.  During one particular segment, camera crews follow local exterminators M&M Environmental, headquartered at 32 Orchard Street, as they fight the furry vermin.

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Herewith a press release from the business:

Rather than bedbugs, it’s the city’s ongoing battle with rats that has the spotlight. Cameras from the BBC in UK followed NYC pest control firm M&M Environmental and their top rodent busting guys- Jeff and Junior. Playing stark contrast to one another, Junior, 26, uses his mean Harlem street-smarts to kill the rats, while Jeff, 43, is more of a sensitive realist from Brooklyn. “Trash is a big deal,” Jeff explains, “Us being sloppy humans and throwing trash out on the sidewalks…that’s a buffet for them,” he says.

The show reports that there’s at least one rat for every person in New York; nearly nine million of the critters. Jeff and Junior leave no rat unturned as they take the Human Planet crew down to a dingy Chinatown restaurant basement where rats aren’t the only pest present. “Rats love fine dining too, but they don’t leave tips behind,” narrator John Hurt explains “They leave excrement and disease.”

In a bit of creative license, the Chinatown restaurant basement was actually filmed in an unnamed East Village spot, while the exterior shots were captured on Doyers Street and also further west at Broadway and Canal Street.

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Some other great factoids uncovered in the episode:

  • In May of 2010, the city health department laid off 75% of its pest control staff.
  • In 2010, there were 10,500 citywide complains of rodents received by 311 – up more than 5% since 2009.
  • So far in 2011, rodent complaints are already up by 9% since 2010’s numbers.
  • A 2010 study revealed that rats reside inside subway station walls, and are not actually found deep inside the walls of subway tunnels.
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