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The closure of restaurants, bars and fast-food outlets has sharply reduced the amount of food on the streets, leading to a surge in cannibal rats. Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News: “They’re mammals, just like you and I. When you’re really, really hungry, you’re not going to act the same.
“When you are hungry 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.”
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US has warned rats are growing increasingly aggressive amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The CDC said: “Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents.
“This is especially in dense commercial areas.
“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.”
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The rodents usually feed on rubbish in restaurant bins, but with many outlets closed or only offering takeout they are empty.
Videos have been posted on social media of famished rats swarming deserted streets in New Orleans and New York streets.
Pest control officials said some rats are resorting to infanticide in order to survive.
A resident of New Orleans told CBS News how he witnessed a swarm of 30 rats crowded around a rare food source in the street.
CDC has also advised American restaurant owners to ensure holes are blocked up to stop the rats getting into business premises.
The CDC added: “Preventive actions include sealing up access into homes and businesses.
“Also, removing debris and heavy vegetation, keeping garbage in tightly covered bins, and removing pet and bird food from their yards is advised.”
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