'Aggressive' Rats Will Be a Lot More Common During the Pandemic, CDC Warns

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Some cities, like New York and New Orleans, have already seen an uptick in aggressive rodent behavior.

People may encounter some not-so-friendly rats amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the CDC said. As many businesses have closed and reduced their service as an attempt to social distance and stop the spread of COVID-19, humans aren’t the only ones feeling the shift. Apparently, rats are too. 

The CDC said that because of the closings of so many establishments, the rodents are looking for a new food supply and may be getting more “aggressive” in the process. “Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,” the CDC said in new guidelines for rodent control during the pandemic. “Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.”

Rats in New Orleans have already begun taking over the streets and there’s been an increase in cannibalism among the rodents. “I turn the corner, there’s about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street,” a tour guide in the city, Charles Marsala, told CBS News.

Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told The New York Times the rodent situation is totally changing in certain environments.

“They are going to war with each other, eating each other’s young in some populations and battling each other for the food they can find,” Corrigan told the paper.  “But the rats that live and eat in residential blocks probably haven’t noticed a single bit of difference during the shutdown.”

The CDC, who noted this behavior is common among rodents during natural disasters, asked residents and business owners to eliminate trash that may attract rats, including: sealing up access, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping the garbage tightly sealed, and removing pet and bird food from yards.