Viral Video: ‘Giant Rat’ Caught on Film in New York City Bodega?

Claim: A video shared online in June 2024 authentically showed a giant rat on the loose in a New York City bodega.

Rating: Miscaptioned ( About this rating? )

Context: According to rodent experts consulted by Snopes, the large rodent in the video is either a muskrat or a nutria, not a rat.

On June 12, 2024, a video surfaced on the social media platform X, purportedly showing a giant rat wandering inside a New York City bodega. The caption accompanying the video boldly claimed, “Rats in New York City are built differently.

” This video quickly gained widespread attention, amassing over 11 million views and sparking a flurry of similar posts on various social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok. The video and its claim also resurfaced in discussions on Reddit, where users dubbed the creature a “New Yorker Rat.”

However, upon closer inspection by rodent experts, the authenticity of the claim was brought into question. Adam Ahlers, an Associate Professor at Kansas State University with extensive research on muskrat populations, examined the footage and confirmed via email to Snopes that the animal in question is a muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), an amphibious rodent commonly found in North America. Ahlers stated, “That is a muskrat. I’m 100 percent sure of this.”

Similarly, Tom Giarla, an Associate Professor at Siena College who specializes in the evolutionary history of rodents, supported this identification. Giarla noted that the creature is “definitely not a rat (Rattus norvegicus)” and suggested it could be either a muskrat or a nutria, another large amphibious rodent. He pointed out that the animal’s whitish whiskers and substantial body size aligned more closely with these species than with typical city rats.

According to the sourceFurther corroborating these findings, Steven Belmain, a professor of ecology at the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute, also identified the rodent as a muskrat. He acknowledged that some people might colloquially refer to large rodents like muskrats as “rats” despite the technical inaccuracy of such terminology.

This clarification underscores the importance of accurate species identification, particularly in the context of viral content that can easily spread misinformation. The miscaptioning of the video highlights how quickly false narratives can take hold, especially when they play into existing stereotypes or sensationalized views of urban wildlife.

Snopes has taken additional steps to verify the information, reaching out to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, and other ecological experts for further confirmation. As of now, the consensus among consulted experts firmly indicates that the rodent in the video is not a giant rat but rather a muskrat or nutria.

This incident reminds us of the critical need for fact-checking and expert consultation in the age of viral media. The rapid spread of the miscaptioned video exemplifies how easily misinformation can increase and the role that authoritative sources must play in setting the record straight. As Snopes continues to gather responses from other experts, any new insights will be added to ensure the most accurate and comprehensive understanding of the situation.

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