2/28/00 - 3 rats seen frolicking on L tracks below the Jackson Red Line platform.

4/27/00 - 1 rat seen in broad daylight scampering through flower beds in front of the Amoco Building. I almost stepped on it. It was too smart to be fooled by the many rat traps hidden under fake rocks in the flowers, instead it retreated to a hole under the sidewalk.

5/1/00 - 1 rat seen dashing across an alley near Fullerton & Clark while riding Rat Patrol, 12:30 am.

5/7/00 - Rat dashed in front of three of us while riding home on found material off Broadway north of Addison. Disappeared into a hole in the fence.

6/3/00 - Rat spotted by Linda ducking into a garage near Montrose & Artesian, while the four of us wandered the alleys in search of abandoned food or material.

6/11/00 - Roadkilled rat spotted in the middle of the intersection at Franklin & Harrison, while on a mission to get Tapioca drinks.

6/13/00 - While eating outside at lunch at work, a rat approached me to within 3 feet, startled, and disappeared into a hole under the sidewalk. I wasn't sure if it was a rat or a rabbit at first, but within 10 minutes it was peeking out of another hole through the groundcover at me and I got a good view of it. Following a network of tunnels, the rat appeared from yet another hole. It loped over to some bushes, where it discovered a peach pit and brought it back to its den. Yet again the rat ventured from its hole, this time darting through the undergrowth very near my feet. I left to escape the threat of rats running up my pant legs.

6/14/00 - This time at lunch I discovered an abandoned bike laying in the mud in the park. After a few hours, I went back to see if the bike was still there, and sure enough, it was still there in the mud. While scoping out the building to see if there was a way to sneak the bike up to my cubicle, I encountered two rats "wrestling" in the flower bed. They were making an awful racket, squealing and squeaking like dog toys. A homeless man was watching them, too, out of idle curiousity. We both commented on the strange scene, though I didn't understand a word the man said.

7/6/00 - Rat took off down a branching alley while following the alley behind the Red Line up to Bryn Mawr. Sue saw it disappear under a dumpster.

7/18/00 - Rat spotted hiding under a van on Leland near Clark.

7/27/00 - Another flattened rat located by Nathan, stuck to the pavement just east of the L tracks at Montrose & Kenmore.

8/18/00 - A fleeing rat ducked into the bushes beside the Chicago Historical Society.

8/25/00 - A roadkilled rat run over by Emily while pulling King Rat in the Gimpy Trailer on Critical Mass ride. Later in the evening, while riding the trailer home, I encountered a live rat near Wilson & Ravenswood. No doubt it was paying homage to its King. It stood in the road for a long moment to glimpse His Majesty, then, from fear of His Highness, scampered under a parked car.

9/16/00 - Rat spotted following the wall of Truman College. I chased it along the flower boxes and it ran all the way along the front of the building to where some members of the Wilson Club were hanging out.

9/17/00 - Another lone rat spotted running along the wall of Truman College. Ducked into a rat hole next to the door where students sit on the low walls.

9/29/00 - Roadkilled rat ceremoniously run over with bike tires near the intersection of Lawrence and Wolcott.

10/3/00 - Rat carrying a big chunk of bread or chicken spotted playing among the L tracks at the Red Line Chicago stop.

10/3/00 - Another collegiate rat seen running across Wilson. Nearly ran over the feet of a man urinating against the L track overpass.

10/31/00 - One rat seen scurrying along the sidewalk & under a car near Western & Division while riding home from the Fireside Bowl.

12/8/00 - Three rats seen playing on the tracks below the Chicago Ave. L platform.

12/21/00 - One rat spotted under tracks at the Jackson Red Line stop.

1/5/01 - Several rat sightings on a Friday night: first, a lone rat sighted during rush hour traffic at the Washington Blue Line stop. It inspected a trash pile between the train tracks while the train approached, unafraid of passersby or the noise of the approaching train. The second sighting, later in the evening: One tiny rat ran, bug-like, alongside the tracks at the Clark & Division stop around midnight. A minute later, a fat rat spotted sauntering along in the opposite direction. And then, a third rat spotted farther down the line. These rats were posing for photos, nosing along slowly, without nervousness or fear. And I had my camera along, but alas! the batteries were dead! Next time, dear readers, I'll be better prepared and get some photos for this page.

2/8/01 - One rat spotted below Red Line platform at Lake station.

3/17/01 - Came upon one rat nosing around a dumpster just off the sidewalk on Ashland Ave. It was unafraid and merely waddled back to a shadowed corner as I approached.

4/1/01 - One disgustingly flattened roadkilled rat discovered in an alley near Belmont & Clark while searching for bike parts and assorted flotsam & jetsam.

5/5/01 - One rat creeping along a wall of railroad embankment where it crosses California Ave. near Diversey

8/5/01 - Flattened rat seen on lakefront bike path near Montrose.

9/6/01 - A long wait at the subway platform for a Red Line home after work late. Out of the corner of my eye I notice a rat creeping around on the tracks, so I got out my camera. Most of the time the rat was hiding behind the tracks, but then he dash out into the open, skittering lightly across the ties. Camera ready, press the shutter! But every single time, the camera paused too long to lock the focus, and the rat was gone. Finally a uniformed CTA worker saunters down the platform. "Do you work for the CTA?" he asks. I shake my head. "Do you have a permit?" I shake my head. "Well, you can't take photos down here without a permit." And so this must be the CTA's dirty little secret: I do not have photos to prove it, but would you believe there are rats in the subway??!!

9/11/01 - On this morning, I rode down to the lake early before work to watch the water and trees for a while. Along the pier, a fisherman stopped me and spun a tale of terrorists and hijackers crashing planes in New York City. Some crazy old man telling his conspiracy theories to strangers. I didn't believe a word of it, but it made me nervous. Farther along the lakefront path, I started to see office workers in groups, heading out of downtown, and caught bits of conversations about bombs and missiles attacking skyscrapers. And it started to dawn on me that the crazy old fisherman had been right. Along the path near North Avenue, I encountered a freshly roadkilled rat. Its fur looked so soft and the beady eyes bulging from its head, they looked like little buttons sewn on a doll. Part of me wanted to pick up the cuddly little thing, but I rode on.

10/18/01 - Another rat spotted eating garbage in between the tracks in the Red Line subway station.

Total number of rats as of 10/01: 61


See photos of rats in their native habitat, spotted and captured on film by Matthew Tolzmann!