The shut down of businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t only affected the people of the United States.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rats have made drastic changes in their habits because of the pandemic. Rats are widely-known dumpster divers, but because of the closure of many restaurants, there isn’t as much trash for them to go through and find food in.
“Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,” the CDC recently said.
Because of this, people have seen rats resorting to eating their young, which is how they have gotten the name “cannibal rats.” Some areas, like Chicago and New Orleans, have reported a huge increase in rodent activity as they search for new sources of food. Other areas report “unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.”
Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News that a reason for the change in behavior of rats around the country is because when “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.”
“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 continued. “So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.”
To help prevent an outbreak in your area, the CDC recommends “sealing up access into homes and businesses, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards.”
Watch a video taken in New Orleans below of rats taking to an empty Bourbon Street looking for food below.