Written By: Andrea Blanco

Desperate New York City restaurant owners have been forced to get creative to tackle the city’s rodent infestation after rat sightings soared by 40percent in 2021 compared to 2019.

Restauranteurs have blamed lack of regular trash collection and street-cleaning services during the pandemic era staff shortages for the increase in critters.

The problem has become so bad that the savvy New York rats are spoiled for choice in scraps, so it takes a special kind of bait to lure them in – peanut butter Oreo cookies.

‘Peanut butter Oreos are the best,’ said Jim Webster, Rat Trap Distribution’s director of operations, of his secret weapon.

Rat Trap Distribution leases a two-feet tall Ekomille trap to restaurants for $250 a month, which lures the rodents in with cookies and then kills then with a safe alcohol-based substance.

Pat Marino, who founded Rat Distribution, said he is now a ‘ratologist,’ but back in 2019 when he became the first and only distributor of the Italian artifact in the US, he just saw a business venture and decided to go for it.

He said around 165 of his devices have been installed in New York City.

Incoming mayor Eric Adams has already vetoed the device, branding it ‘amazing’ and saying he is thinking of distributing more across the city once he is in office.

New York City’s rat problem is big, well-known and well-documented by residents who often poke fun at the issue.

In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a $32 million project to address the issue, but it has nonetheless persisted and seemingly gotten worse.

The problem was exacerbated by a $106 million cut from the sanitation department’s budget during the summer, and the number of sanitation workers who have quit or not shown up to work after Mayor Bill de Blasio mandated vaccination for all city workers in October.

In early November, more than 9,000 city workers, one in six sanitation workers were still on leave for not being vaccinated.

Casa La Femme, a lavish Egyptian restaurant in the West Village, is one in a growing number of restaurants in the city that have leased an Ekomille in an attempt to get rid of the rodents.

After watching the video on the Rat Distribution’s website, Anastasios Hairatidis didn’t think twice and ordered the device right away.

‘Usually, we procrastinate,’ he told The New York Times. ‘It’s really for the community.’

The cookies, along with sunflower seeds and other types of bait are placed in the surroundings of the device, and in a tiny set of stairs, the rats will climb until they reach the upper surface of the device.

They’ll be able to freely climb up and down for a week or so, as impatient renters wait for the final act.

When the rats get comfortable with the dynamic, the platform will drop, making them fall to the lower compartment filled with a noxious substance that will make them unconscious and eventually drown them.

The company will then remove the carcasses and clean the device.

While rats are still extensively present, customers are finding the method quite effective, but PETA said it is just another cruel act humans are perpetrating on animals.

The organization described the Ekomille as a new way ‘to torment and kill small animals who are simply trying to live their lives, just like any other New Yorker,’ to the Times.