Rats are turning to cannibalism as their food supply desperately runs short during coronavirus lockdown, say experts.
With humans stuck inside for weeks and many food outlets not operating, rodents are becoming more aggressive in their scavenging habits, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And as society slowly begins to re-open, the health body is warning people to be on their guard thanks to an “increase in rodent activity”.
“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.
A Bourbon Street man told he turned a corner to be confronted by ’30 rats’ eating something in the street, while elsewhere there have reports of housing block infestations.
“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 in April.
“So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.”
He said they rely on feeding at night off food waste discarded from restaurants and other eateries.
CDC has also advised American restaurant owners to ensure holes are blocked or risk having hungry rats getting into their food as they prepare to get back to business.
“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,” the authority added.
Across the US, reports have already emerged in recent weeks in relation to unusual rat activity, some caught on CCTV, including in New York and New Orleans.