Photo: The Ugliest Rat

Rat in New York City (photo by Michael Spivack)

There is a winner in the Transport Workers Union's “Ugliest Rat” photo competition.  Native New Yorker Michael Spivack clicked the prize picture at New York City’s 7th Avenue station on53rd Street.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 launched the contest last September in an effort to pressure the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to hire more clean up workers.

But curator Robert Voss with the American Museum of Natural History said rats will be with us forever, and are not as dangerous as once thought.  “They don't carry serious diseases, unlike the black rat, which used to occur in New York City but no longer does.  So, there's not a huge health issue,” said Voss.  Today’s subway rats are the same species as pet rats.  “People don’t like rats largely because of prejudice,” Voss added.  But he said rats could chew through electrical wiring and cause problems.

Contest winner Michael Spivack will receive a monthly MetroCard as a prize.  It will be presented near the very subway platform where he snapped the rat shot.

The union’s prize is well timed:  it’s in the middle of contract talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

To see more photos and videos of rats in the subway, go here.