But the 31-year-old Brooklynite doesn’t hate rats. “They’re mostly after sex and garbage, and I think we can all relate to that,” she tells Moneyish
An estimated 2 million rats call New York home. Now you can hire a hit on them.
One enterprising Brooklyn woman claims she’ll kill any five rats for $15 or five rats in your neighborhood of choice for $25. Happy Dead Rats, as she calls her vigilante vermin-slaying side hustle, launched earlier this month with pull-tab flyers and a website inviting customers to “give the gift of fewer rats”: Simply submit your name and email, she says, and she’ll reply with “a timeline from dead rats to delivered certificate.”
“Business is fine, but New York City is definitely not in danger of rat extinction,” the 31-year-old told Moneyish. “I work alone.”
As with any rodent-assassin service worth its salt, there are caveats: Her “kill zone” is New York City, as specified in an FAQ section. She will not come to your house. It’s an “unusual” business, so she caps herself at three sets of five kills a day. You can, however, set up a wedding registry — and add-ons like GPS coordinates to the rat grave and a photo of the tiny tombstone, she claims on the site, are coming soon.
While the rat hitwoman politely declined a request to accompany her on a kill, she was kind enough to answer a few questions by email. (At her request due to professional considerations, Moneyish is withholding her name.) The interview has been edited slightly for clarity:
What is your non-rat day job?
I’m a copywriter. We don’t have rats, but we do have a woman who plays low-level Christmas music at her desk. It’s much worse.
What was the inspiration for Happy Dead Rats?
I see it as a more practical version of adopting a star or a giraffe. I love stars and giraffes, but a star has never scampered across my foot on the subway platform, and I’ve never had to pocket my trash because of a giraffe-infested dumpster. Happy Dead Rats has the same do-good aspect, but keeps it a lot realer.
You seem to know a lot about rats. Do you have a deep-seated hatred or fear of them? Why?
I don’t hate rats at all! I find them very interesting and impressive. New York City can be tough, but rats adapt and keep at it! They’re mostly after sex and garbage, and I think we can all relate to that.
How and where do you find the rats? I know they’re everywhere, but are you looking anywhere specific?
Instead of “shooting fish in a barrel,” we should say “killing rats at dusk.” All I really have to do is get near trash and wait for dusk. Some neighborhoods are safer bets, but this map of 311 rat complaints is a nice visualization of the opportunity in my field.
What is your preferred kill method? Do you try to kill humanely, or just use whatever means necessary?
Humanely and quickly. If/when a rat ever kills me, I hope it returns the favor.
Can you be any more specific about how exactly you are killing rats? What do you use to do it?
I don’t think it’s good for business to get into the details of the rat killing method, but I can offer that it’s very fast and with minimal gore.
How many people have hired you for rat hit jobs? Have they opted for $15 or $25 deals?
Happy Dead Rats: Classic overwhelmingly beats Happy Dead Rats: Home Is Where the Rats Aren’t. I thought it’d be a landslide in the other direction — who wouldn’t want to see their (least) favorite rat corner on a five-fewer-rats certificate? I recently had a customer call off the hit a few hours after placing his order. His sister had killed 11 rats herself this year, and he thought she’d appreciate the gift, but I later got a very sweet email saying that “despite all the reasons this makes sense my conscience wants me to call off the hit.” The timing worked and I sent a full refund.
Aside from the certificate, what proof do customers have that you actually killed the rats? Is it an honor system? Do you offer photographic or video documentation?
I like to think they’ll notice slightly fewer rats. I thought about offering photographic evidence/video footage, but that puts me into the rat snuff film business and doesn’t really prove anything. The photo could be of any old dead rat or the video could be a generic rat kill video. It’s one thing to kill rats, but it’s another thing to videotape yourself killing rats while holding a copy of the day’s newspaper and saying, “This is for you, (customer name)!”
How much do these kills cost you in terms of materials, labor, time, etc.?
My overhead expenses are very low, but it’s tricky to gauge time — every rat is different.
Why limit yourself to three sets of five kills a day?
Killing 20 of something seems insane. Also, it helps with scheduling.
Do you ever feel bad, just going around killing rats? Or do you see it as more of a public service?
I don’t feel too bad about it. I like rats, but I like people more, and rat infestations haven’t historically worked out very well for people.
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