CDC warns rats are becoming aggressive and cannibalizing each other as they struggle to find food amid restaurant closures
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that as the rodents have been starved of restaurant leftovers they are becoming more aggressive
- CDC is warning of ‘unusual or aggressive rodent behavior’ due to starvation
- Rats lost their food supply as lockdowns closed restaurants and businesses
- The food scarcity means rats fight one another, often engaging in cannibalism
- In some cities rats have invaded emptied streets as they hunt for scraps
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Rats and other rodents have had to become even more aggressive in their search for food as their supply from closed restaurants has seen their source dry up.
With fewer passengers on city subways and restaurants all but shut except for a smattering of take out orders, a normally bountiful supply of food left behind from humans is now a rare treat.
Things are becoming so serious that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out a new advisory alerting people to be aware of ‘aggressive rodent behavior’ on the unsuspecting public.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that as the rodents have been starved of restaurant leftovers they are becoming more aggressive (file photo)
In New Orleans, viral videos emerged of swarms of rats taking over roads and sidewalks in usually-bustling neighborhoods like the French Quarter (pictured)
As restaurants closed save for take-out service, far less food waste is being discarded in the alleyways or trash, driving the local rodent population out into the open to search for scraps
‘Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,’ the CDC said. ‘Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food.’
‘Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior,’ the advisory reads.
The CDC is suggesting that homeowners and restaurant owners check their properties and seal up holes where rats might be able to sneak inside and feast on garbage.
‘Follow established guidelines when cleaning up after rodent infestations to prevent exposure to rodent-borne diseases,’ the advisory reads.
‘Fleas are common on rodents. In area of heavy rodent infestations, workers should consider using a repellent registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency’
Lat month it was reported that some rats have even resorted to cannibalism as the hunt for food becomes more difficult.
‘A restaurant all of a sudden closes now, which has happened by the thousands in not just New York City but coast to coast and around the world, and those rats that were living by that restaurant, some place nearby, and perhaps for decades having generations of rats that depended on that restaurant food, well, life is no longer working for them, and they only have a couple of choices,’ Corrigan told NBC News last month.
When hungry rats move to areas where food is still available, carnage ensues.
Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist who has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in rodent pest management said that rats who rely on homes for their food supply are still faring well
With New Orleans under a Stay in place order the city’s rodent population has swarmed streets in the French Quarter section, pictured in April
‘It’s just like we’ve seen in the history of mankind, where people try to take over lands and they come in with militaries and armies and fight to the death, literally, for who’s going to conquer that land. And that’s what happens with rats,’ Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist who has both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in rodent pest management, said.
‘A new ‘army’ of rats come in, and whichever army has the strongest rats is going to conquer that area.’
The fierce turf wars extend beyond just fights over grub – often driving rats to eat each other.
‘They’re mammals just like you and I, and so when you’re really, really hungry, you’re not going to act the same — you’re going to act very bad, usually,’ he said.
‘So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.’
Rats invaded the streets of New Orleans (pictured) after stay-at-home orders turned the city into a ghost town and cut off the rodents’ regular food supply in April
Several cities including New Orleans, Baltimore and Washington, DC, are taking aggressive action to curb rat populations as the animals turn to newly-emptied streets as a new source of food.
In New Orleans, viral videos have emerged of swarms of rats taking over roads and sidewalks in usually-bustling neighborhoods like the French Quarter – a sight local officials attributed to social distancing.
‘What we have seen is these practices are driving our rodents crazy,’ Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a news conference in March.
‘And what rodents do, they will find food, and they will find water. That puts our street homeless in dire, dire straits. And that’s why I’m so laser-focused on it right now.’