Viral Video Misleads: Giant “Rat” in NYC Bodega Identified as Different Rodent Species

A viral video claiming to show a giant rat on the loose in a New York City bodega has been debunked by rodent experts. Despite the video’s authenticity, the creature in question is not a rat. Experts have identified the large rodent as either a muskrat or a nutria.

The video, posted on June 12, 2024, by an X user, was captioned, “Rats in New York City are built different.” While the video quickly garnered attention, experts soon weighed in to clarify the creature’s true identity.

Kansas State University Associate Professor Adam Ahlers, who has researched muskrat populations, told Snopes via email, “That is a muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). I’m 100 percent sure of this.”

Similarly, Siena College Associate Professor Tom Giarla, an expert in the evolutionary history of rodents, stated, “It is definitely not a rat (Rattus norvegicus).” Giarla suggested that the rodent could be a muskrat or, given its large body and whitish whiskers, a nutria—another amphibious rodent and invasive species in North America.

Professor Jane Hurst of the University of Liverpool also identified the rodent as a muskrat, noting the characteristic hairless, keeled tail. Steven Belmain, an ecology professor at the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute, concurred, adding that some people loosely refer to large rodents like muskrats as “rats,” despite the technical inaccuracy.

Snopes has labeled the claim and video as “Miscaptioned” due to the incorrect identification of the rodent. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the United States Department of Agriculture have also been contacted for further confirmation, and updates will be provided as responses are received.

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This clarification underscores the importance of expert analysis in viral content, reminding viewers that not everything is as it appears on social media.

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