With humans all stuck inside under stay-at-home orders, rats and other rodents have become more aggressive while scavenging for food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in a new advisory.
Now they could be ready to unleash a wave of “aggressive rodent behavior” on an unsuspecting public as society begins to reopen.
“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 said.
The CDC urged residents and restaurant owners to seal up holes where the hangry rats could get inside and to clear up debris and garbage.
“Follow established guidelines when cleaning up after rodent infestations to prevent exposure to rodent-borne diseases,” the advisory said. “Fleas are common on rodents. In area of heavy rodent infestations, workers should consider using a repellent registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency…”
Urban rats struggled to find food during the lockdown, and in some cases even resorted to rodent cannibalism.
“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,” Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News last month. “So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.”