The CDC Have Issued A Warning About "Aggressive" Rats As Lockdown Leads To Hangry Rodents

We all get a little feisty when the snacks are in short supply. Estremo/Shutterstock

As lockdown measures continue to keep people from the streets, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about “an increase in rodent activity” as quiet conditions send the rodents in search of new food. Without the usually fruitful supply of scraps from human litter, hungry rats are having to forage further for food and are behaving more aggressively as resources remain sparse.

The US is currently the worst affected country from Covid-19 with over 1,646,495 cases, according to the John Hopkins live map at the time of writing. Though there have been protests against lockdown measures, much of the country has seen a sharp reduction in human outdoor activity, which is having a knock-on effect for urban wildlife.

"Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas," the CDC said in a statement posted to its website. "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."

A report from the Chicago Tribune has reported that “hundreds of thousands” of rats, which are usually predominantly nocturnal animals, are strutting the city streets in search of their next meal. Meanwhile, from March to April, Washington DC and Baltimore both saw a sharp rise in rodent-related call outs for vermin control.

In New York, a sharp decline in tourists means rats are getting tense as food is in short supply. "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," said rat expert Bobby Corrigan in an interview with the New York Times.

The CDC’s advice is to monitor and contain rats where possible and try to keep areas free from rubbish, which could attract or shelter rat populations. "Preventive actions include 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," they said on their website.

The news comes as Rome reports that seagulls have taken to eating rats and pigeons as a similar reduction in human-related scraps leaves the city’s gull populations going hungry.

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