May 27, 2020, 7:49:11 AM5/27/20
Officials say rats have resorted to open warfare and eating their young as
closures reduce edible waste
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of "unusual or
aggressive" behavior in American rats as a consequence of more than two
months of human lockdown for city-dwelling rodents who now find themselves
unable to dine out on restaurant waste, street garbage and other food
Last month, according to the national health body, dumpster-diving rats were
observed resorting to eating their young in the wake of urban shutdowns.
"Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents,
especially in dense commercial areas," the CDC said in recently updated
"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."
Elevated levels of rat aggression has been observed in New York, where there
are increased reports of cannibalism and infanticide, and New Orleans, where
unusual rat behavior was caught on CCTV.
"I turn the corner, there's about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on
something in the middle of the street," Bourbon street tour guide Charles
Marsala told CBS News.
Complaints in Chicago have included reports of infestations in housing blocks
as rodents seek new sources of food.
Some rodent experts predicted increased urban rat aggression.
"Many of these rats in our cities depend on their nightly food, which is the
restaurants and hotels and bars and doughnut shops and everything that we
consume on the go," rodentologist Bobby Corrigan told The Washington Post.
The overall rat-to-human ratio is notoriously hard to gauge. A 1949 study
determined the ratio was 36 humans to one rat in New York. The estimate was
increased to one to one in the 1950s, and then dropped again to four humans
to one rat.
The CDC noted that rodent population upheavals are common during natural
"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 CDC said.
Every American should want President Trump and his administration to handle
the coronavirus epidemic effectively and successfully. Those who seem eager
to see the president fail and to call every administration misstep a fiasco
risk letting their partisanship blind them to the demands not only of civic
responsibility but of basic decency.