If you’ve spent time in New York City, you’ve seen your share of rats. The most common place to spot the unpopular rodents is in the city’s subways. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, many of the subway tunnels are currently flooded, leaving the rats nowhere to go but up.

And according to experts, they will have no problem doing so.

“Rats are incredibly good swimmers,” explained Rick Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Milbrook, New York. “And they can climb.” Yes, New York may be on the cusp of a large-scale rat invasion.

Beyond just creeping folks out, having more rats above ground means an increased risk of infectious diseases, including typhus, salmonella and even the plague. ”One of things we know can exacerbate disease is massive dispersal,” Ostfeld added. “Rats are highly social individuals and live in a fairly stable social structure. If this storm disturbs that, rats could start infesting areas they never did before.”

Sleep tight, New Yorkers.

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