Why do Boston's subway stations have mice?

Back in '99, I visisted an ex girlfriend who was attending MIT. While waiting at one of the subway platforms, we observed a couple of mice running around down by the rails.

Last weekend I was in Boston again, and this time observed quite a few mice down by the rails in one of the subway stations.

They seem to be quite a long ways from the surface; I don’t know much about mice, but I’d guess they’re not making regular sorties up to ground level. No doubt water can trickle down to them from somewhere, but what are they eating? There’s no vegetation down there. Are there enough crackers and sandwich scraps getting tossed down onto the rails for them to eat?

While we’re on the subject, I visited Washington, DC last fall and again this spring. I don’t remember seeing any mice down there. Why does Boston have mice and DC doesn’t?

You just didn’t look hard enough. There are plenty of mice running around the DC Metro by the tracks.

They eat all the crap left behind by slobby T riders. Dunkin Donuts crumbs, Cheetos, residue in yogurt cups, M&Ms, etc. That sticky spot on the platform where someone spilled a soda? Some mice will be by later to lick it. People are pigs and the mice benefit.

The T periodically exterminates, but the mice always come back.

Also, there’s plenty of water everywhere in the tunnels. Enough for thousands of mice.
ETA - countless generations are born, live and die without ever seeing the light of day. Except the mice at Alewife, which are up at ground level. They’re called Alemice.

Years ago I was in a London subway station where there were mice on the tracks. All of the waiting passengers were watching the mice, but being cool about it, like, “No big deal, just some mice on the track, I’ll just stand here waiting for my train…” All of a sudden a little boy, maybe 4 or 5 years old, piped up “Look! Mousies!” as he pointed them out to his mother.

At that point a train started to roll into the station. The little boy got hysterical, shrieking, “RUN, MOUSIES, RUN!” As the train stopped, he was in tears as his mother tried to explain to him that the mousies had probably found a crack or tunnel to hide in, and hadn’t just been gruesomely crushed in front of him.

Now whenever I see mice in a subway station, I always think, “RUN, MOUSIES, RUN!”

New York City, on the other hand, doesn’t have mice. It has rats. Big ones. Big enough that you if you could harness one or two of them, you could move a disabled subway train.

When they were disrupting undergbround Boston for the Big Dig several years ago, the subways had freakin’ huge RATS.

I’ll take a few small mice, thank you.

DC Metro doesn’t allow eating, sometimes famously so.

But, as Edward the Head noted, if you really look for them, they’re there.

And they are bold as brass - not your standard, sneaky, in the shadows rats.

Because there’s food (in the form of garbage left by humans), water, and shelter from temperature extremes there for them. Probably not a lot of predators, either. Mice can climb walls, including concrete walls, and can jump, too, so getting up from the tracks to the station platform is probably not a problem for them.

My husband had to give way to a rat at Kenmore recently. It was coming down the stairs and husband was going up. Rat did NOT want to move over.

What you may have seen were mutant rats, rather than mice.

You might expect mutant rats to be humungous, but the opposite is often the case: Rats are very highly-strung creatures, and the noise and vibration from the subway trains freak them out. Like most mammals, they react to such stress by producing abnormally small, underweight offspring.

I’m sure there are still a lot of BFRs lurking in any urban subway: It’s the perfect environment for them, relatively safe with great opportunities to forage. But many of their babies are going to be mutant mini-rats.

The ones I have seen on the red line are definitely nice. Furry tails, snub noses.

Boston is far from unique. Many subway systems have mice and/or rats. I’ve personally seen rats on the BART tracks in San Francisco.

What I want to know is why those re-fillable fare cards are called “Charlie cards.”

It’s because of that song, right?

Yes. They even had the Kingston Trio play at the press conference.

I love the way they named the transit card after a song about a guy who couldn’t get off the subway.

My theory is that no one really pays attention to these things, anyway. They know it’s about a guy named Charlie and the Boston Subway, so what else do you gotta know?
Incidentally, the song didn’t originate with the Kingsmen. It was a 1949 political campaign song commissioned by Progressive Party candidate Walter O’Brien, making an issue of the way people were being charged to exit the subways. Walter lost, which the MBTA people ought to take notice of. And 25 years later I was still paying to get off at crertain subway stations.

Here’s what Tube mice eat. That and Snickers.

Don’t mice eat bugs too? I sure there are plenty of roaches and other insects available for them in addition to the cast-off human food.

Well, yeah. They’re New Yorkers.

For our 5th anniversary I found and bought a MTA token for mrAru. He keeps it in his wallet:D