Rats! The playground's infested.
The playground at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village has been invaded by a swarming pack of rodents that have taken up residence near the sandbox and swing set -- just two years after the park underwent a $1.5 million renovation, according to the New York Post.
"You have to run away because they think it's their territory," fumed Irena Onufiriw, speaking of the rat pack on Avenue A and East Ninth Street after a visit with her 4-year-old daughter.
Come dusk, droves of the vermin emerge from underground burrows and scurry about seeking discarded morsels of grub.
"You can hear them in the bushes squeaking. The park is their breeding ground," said Jon Lefkowitz, 38.
Parents and children are often seen fleeing the park, afraid the pests will run up their legs, said Chad Marlow, president of the Tompkins Square Park & Playground Parents' Association.
In 2009, the city upgraded the park with new equipment and plants. The next year, it was named one of the city's top 19 playgrounds by New York magazine.
"Since then, upkeep has not been consistent," said Marlow.
The Parks Department said it keeps the facility clean and is replacing mesh garbage baskets with sealed drums. It's also removing the plants that sheltered the rats.
Poison won't be used because a red-tailed hawk lives nearby, said an agency spokesman.
Additional reporting by Bob Fredericks and James Cahalan