Since the pandemic began, there have been reports of rat and child cannibalism in New York, as well as more rat complaints in residential areas – including in Chicago – as people produce more food waste at home. Roving rat armies, including one captured on camera, clears New Orleans’ empty streets, affecting the CDC, which says rodents can carry disease.
CDC advises home and business owners to cover debris cans, put bird and pet food out of reach and seal small holes that rodents can access in buildings. If people follow established cleaning guidelines, they can avoid exposure to rodent-related diseases, according to the agency.
“Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new food sources,”
In cities that try to fight rodent issues, such as Washington, pest workers are classified as essential. The District of Columbia has had more than 800 rodent calls over the past month, according to the city’s 311 records.
Rats can transmit foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, and their urine can also exacerbate allergies and asthma, especially in children, Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association, previously told The Post.
Urban rodent Bobby Corrigan anticipated increased reports of aggressive rodents as the pandemic began. He said that with restaurants closing, rats would have to adapt to find new food sources. At the end of March, he called on other pest experts to share what they think about exploring their areas.
Corrigan told The Post that a pest expert sent him a photo after a nasty rat fight in Queens: A nest of rats had left to search for food at their usual block of restaurants but turned to each other when they couldn’t find enough leftovers, Believe Corrigan. A pile of rat limbs on the sidewalk was all that remained.
“Many of these rats in our cities depend on their nightly food, which is restaurants, hotels and bars and donut shops and everything we consume on the go,” said Corrigan.
Corrigan said that rats are “opportunistic breeders”, so because many rats’ reliable food sources have disappeared, the rodents are looking for new menu options. To keep rats from eating at home, he recommends following the CDC guidance and securing food properly so that rats cannot access it. He recommends that people avoid inhuman traps or poison.
“Deny them the opportunity, and you will never even know that they have visited your property,” he said.