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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

One not-fun consequence of booming cities is the scourge of rats, well fed by trash, warmed by climate change, and bringing new health threats and general grossness with them.

The big picture: “Everywhere I go, rat populations are up,” scientist Robert Corrigan tells the NYT.

  • He estimates that rat numbers may be up 15–25% in some municipalities, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

By the (horrifying) numbers, courtesy of National Geographic:

  • "[A] litter of nine pups 10 weeks into the year would grow to 270 pups by the 30th week and wrap up with a whopping 11,907 rats by year’s end."
  • "Rats usually reach sexual maturity by 12 weeks, and litters can vary from two to 14 pups."
  • "Reproductive rates are highly dependent on environment. The more shelter, food, and trash, the higher the rat count."

What's next: Cities are trying lots of things to fix their rat problems, and they're mostly failing.

  • Poisoning and suffocation (via dry ice) has mostly failed. Survivors can rapidly repopulate an area.
  • D.C. has even tried sterilizing the little devils.
  • On the other coast: "Rat-infested piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year's record number of flea-borne typhus cases." (NBC 4 LA)

The bottom line: "Until cities radically change how they deal with their trash, Corrigan says, 'the rats are winning this war.'"

Go deeper

12 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.