It turns out that closing down countless restaurants and making people shelter in place has had an unexpected impact on the behavior and eating habits of rats, according to experts. For one thing, there is now a significantly larger prevalence of rodents in major U.S. cities than there were just a month or two ago.
Just at the end of last month, the famed New Orleans' French Quarter boasted huge new swarms of rodent visitors who were perusing its old streets. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants and bars to close down in the historic center of Louisiana, the rodents came out to play. Rodents were being spotted in packs like gangs, per some rodentologists. For pests like these that have been dependent on tourist litter and trash left on the streets at night (whether it is in New York, Washington D.C., or Seattle), the pesky animals have to come up with another plan for how to keep themselves fed. A member of the New Orleans pest control board warned that the rodents are hungry and the need for effective and active rodent control is now a foregone conclusion.
With people all over the earth altering their typical behavior because of the pandemic threat of coronavirus, quarantines are often translating to a dearth in the trash that rodents have long depended on to survive. They are now even willing to risk coming out by day to find food. Some are turning increasingly to feeding on household trash, which is still just as plentiful as ever, now that the restaurant trash mainstay source has dried up.
The British-based National Pest Technicians Association has warned earlier in April that closing down pubs, hotels, restaurants, schools, tourist hangouts, and similar public places in order to maintain social distancing rules is having unintended consequences for the hated rodent populations. When food is available, larger populations quickly spring up in now empty buildings and grow bolder because there are no people around to threaten them. For rodents that are in restaurants that are now closed, they are boldly going out to look for food in the form of your own household trash.
Across major cities of the United States, there have been numerous lockdown-based sightings of rodents in the last month. Seattle, New York, and New Orleans have especially seen rising complaints regarding rodent populations their cities are experiencing while under lockdown. The trend is disturbingly similar in other parts of the world too.
Rat Wars On City Streets; Cannibalism Among Rodents Becomes More Common
Another by-product of food scarcity has cause stressed rat colonies to increasingly turn to cannibalism to feed themselves. Rodents will first kill one of their own. Next, they then clean the meat off of the unfortunate victims down to the bone in no time.
Expert rodentologist Bobby Corrigan shared the graphic image below in a Tweet on 4/16/20:
The wars, battles & grisly remains of hunger-stressed city rats anywhere during Covid19. Here 6 + victims. Rats are also warriors. Bodies dragged off. Rodent killings (called Muricide) far less when food (garbage, other) remain abundant & stable. Pic:S.Durga @Standardpest 🐀🕵️♀️⚔️ pic.twitter.com/5NK44b7bDo— Bobby Corrigan (@rodentologist) April 16, 2020
Rodents Are the Grand Masters of Adaptation
These rodents are formidable animals that have become ideal at ferreting out reliable sources of food using their sensitive noses. They are easily able to reduce such barriers as plastics, doors, and fabrics in minutes. The pests are everywhere in the world exactly because they are so adept at adapting to different conditions and circumstances.
The lockdown presents the perfect opportunity for cities to engage with pest control specialists who are able to utilize rodent control techniques to deal with unwanted infestations. New Orleans has been doing precisely that while the French Quarter is closed down. They hope to control the city's thriving and growing rat population this way.
One good piece of news concerning the rodents is that they abandon caution when times are lean. Their empty stomachs drive them to risk baited rat traps in order to get a meal. Without enough food, the rodents quickly turn on each other like cannibals. They will inevitably control their own population when times get hard.
Rodents Are Most Unwelcome House Guests
Hungry, angry, wandering rodents can threaten the well-being of homes and their human and pet occupants. Besides potentially causing considerable damage as they enter and move about a house, they are also quite capable of spreading dangerous diseases to the home occupants. Unchecked, the rodents will end up in a child's bedroom or living in a nursing home or even a hospital ward. The bad news is that rodents are historically connected with around 55 individual pathogens. Fortunately, so far no vermin have been positively linked as direct carriers of the coronavirus, although research still continues.
A specific danger in a home or business is that these rodents are able to easily gnaw through electrical wiring and wood, which can lead to house fires. Besides these more unlikely but still possible dangers, you do not want to let the rodents become overly familiar with your kitchens or to share your dinner meals with them now that times are hard for the pests.
Keeping Rodents Out of Your House During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Lockdown
An effective means of keeping the rodents from your own house is to deliberately seal up all areas that allow for the pesky creatures to enter the structure. This includes holes and cracks that exist near the pipes, utilities, or even foundation. From the inside of your home, you should eliminate all hiding places for them that you possibly can. Also, make an effort to clear away all areas that are cluttered so that you do not create a place for them to hide. All food has to be stored in containers that are effectively rodent-proof.
Cities Taking Advantage of Empty Streets to Exterminate Rats Now
As there are now more rodents than ever wandering the empty streets, there are growing concerns about how this may impact the more vulnerable homeless people in cities like New Orleans. The pathogens in these animals can lead to devastating disease outcomes.
Still, the potential danger of an altogether different kind of pandemic exists. Remember that it was the rodents who helped to spread the bubonic plague, The Black Death during the 14th century. This killed somewhere between a third and one-half of the entire population on the continent of Europe.
Meanwhile, the governmental authorities in the city of New Orleans are taking no chances with the rising threat of multiplying rodents while lockdown is enforced. They are utilizing the shelter in place opportunity to hit hard the various commercial parts of the city using serious pest control, per Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans.
The best defense against the growing rat populations? Making sure your home is sealed off, trash areas and bins are kept clean and sealed, and controlling infestation with traps. The A24 is an automatic rat & mouse trap designed to give you constant control and goes about dispatching rodents in a humane way, without the use of toxins.