Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, rats are reportedly turning into aggressive cannibals as they struggle to find food during the current global pandemic.

Due to lockdown restrictions and a significant drop in the levels of garbage from places like restaurants, rats have been forced to eat their own babies or take bolder risks in searching open environments for food.

That means they’re coming out of the shadows in greater numbers than ever and it’s a truly terrifying thought.

A recent update from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned US cities may discover “unusual or aggressive rodent behavior” as a result of their food shortages:

Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas. Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food.

Urban rodentologist, Bobby Corrigan, told NBC News:

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. So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups.

Witnessing these bold new rats in action, a New Orleans tour guide captured the moment a group of rats – aptly known as a “mischief” of rats – had the feast of their lives.

Charles Marsala remarked:

I turn the corner, there’s about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street.

And people on social media are reporting their own strange sightings too (jokes or otherwise):

So how can we protect ourselves against these aggressive cannibal rats?!

The guidance suggests eliminating conditions that may attract them by cleaning up your home.

This includes keeping food in thick plastic or metal containers, cleaning up food spillages and dirty dishes right away, don’t leave pet food out overnight, using a thick plastic or metal garbage can and keeping compost bins as far away as possible from your house.

When restaurants start to open back up after the lockdown is lifted, it’s likely there’ll be a boom in rodent populations.

To figure out if you have a rodent problem, the CDC stated:

Indications that rodents are present—aside from seeing either live or dead ones—are rodent droppings, runways, rub marks, and tracks. Other signs include burrows, nests, gnawings, food scraps, rat hair, urine spots, rodent noises, insects that are associated with rodents, odors from urine, or dead rodents.

Rats are just the latest complication in one of the most disruptive and devastating years we've seen in our lifetime.

There were unprecedented fires in Australia, a global pandemic and murder hornets – what's next?

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)