Giant White Rats of College Avenue Lot 16

By Jessica Teal

Although parking lot #16 on the College Avenue Campus is hardly a nature park, a lot of weird wildlife seems to abound in this area. The lot is a big gated 75+ car parking area behind buildings such as the Graduate School of Education, a Rutgers Rarities hotspot, and Milledor and Murray Halls. One of the odd species that seem to thrive in this area are very large albino rats that can easily be found scurrying around the drainpipes, dumpsters, and ledges of many of the buildings adjoining the parking lot. I usually see them at night or in the wee hours of the morning and I am amazed at not only their size- they must be about 7-10 lbs – but at the fact that they are true albinos (red eyes and all). They also seem to be busy and unusually intelligent creatures. I have witnessed a very formidable looking one scurry down a drainpipe – telephone pole man style - carrying what appeared to be a baggied sandwich, stop at ground level, pull at and ultimately unwrap the sandwich, and then trot leisurely off towards the dumpster for a family picnic, undoubtedly. The rats even appear to be carrying or transporting non-edible things around the lot and buildings. A few times it even looked like they were carrying a piece of cable or wire a la Nimh.

There are a lot of albino animals living on Rutgers University grounds. Considering that albinoism is a genetic mutation, the odds of multi-species albinoism shouldn’t be that high. All this mutation seems to point to environment of these species. What is in the Rutgers University environment that could incite change in an organism at a cellular genetic level? This question begs further research...

©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005