Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to “unusual or aggressive” behavior of rodents, the agency said on Thursday on its website.
“The rats don’t become aggressive towards humans, but towards one another,” said Bobby Corrigan Urban Rodentologist, who holds both a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in rodent pest control, said on Sunday. “They just turn on each other.”
Dr. Corrigan said there are certain colonies of Rats in New York that have depended on nightly garbage from restaurants for hundreds of generations and come out of sewers and alleys to ravage the bags left on the streets. With the shutdown, all of that went away and the rats were hungry and desperate.
Dr. Corrigan said pest control specialists in the city had sent him photos of cannibalization and rodent slaughter.
“They go to war with each other, eat each other’s boys in some populations, and fight each other for the food they can find,” said Dr. Corrigan. “But the rats that live and eat in apartment blocks probably didn’t notice a difference during the shutdown.”
To keep hungry rodents at bay, the C.D.C. It is recommended to seal access to houses and shops, to remove dirt, to store rubbish in tightly covered containers and to remove animal and bird feed from the courtyards.
Dr. Corrigan said the latest guidelines from the C.D.C. should put homeowners on alert. Whether in rural America or in urban areas, people who do not normally see rats may notice them.
“You’d be smart to ask yourself: How do I do my trash and how do I completely deny a wild animal?” he said. “And look at the foot of your door. Take out a ruler to see if there’s a space under the door – half an inch lets it in. “
Michael H. Parsons, a visiting researcher at Fordham University who studies how rats migrate massively from areas near closed restaurants, delis, and arenas to new environments, said that rats don’t usually travel far to get food and water. This minimizes the risk of them being seen by humans and predators, he said.
But in the past few weeks, pest control professionals have seen more rats making their way through the day and entering houses where no rodent activity had previously taken place, Jim Fredericks, the chief entomologist at National Pest Management Association said on Sunday.
Suburban neighborhoods, often alongside shopping centers and other businesses, are also seeing new infestations, he said.
Dr. Fredericks said there is no evidence that rats can be infected with Covid-19 or that they can spread it to humans. Nevertheless, they are a risk to public health. Rats can transmit other diseases and a specialist should be called when an infestation occurs, he said.
As soon as the restaurants reopen, the rats return to their reliable food sources. Dr. Fredericks said he did not expect the whole rat population to be significantly affected by the shutdowns.
“You are resilient,” he said. “Rats are good at being pests.”