In April 2020, a National Geographic coronavirus report tells of how in different U.S. cities, rats came out of hiding when lockdowns eliminated urban trash. In reading the report, it reminded us of a book published in 2002 entitled The Story of Rats, in which the author Anthony Barnett wrote about his encounter with rodents during World War II.
Barnett’s story was in connection with his deployment in London’s underground where rats stayed hidden in sewers due to the Luftwafft’s nightly bombing of the city. Somehow, his underground experience piqued his interest in rats as it gave him a view on how humans impact rat behavior and how rats impact human lives. After the war, Barnett became a professor of biology in Australia, and later worked for the Indian government as an expert adviser on controlling rats.
Today, with the pandemic forcing humans in urban environments to stay inside their homes more often than they used to, certain changes in the urban ecosystem also drove rats to plunder human homes. The critters have become bolder, scurrying through neighborhoods and somehow have found ways to enter households. City folks who have never experienced rat infestations before are at a loss on how to deal with the situation.
Apparently, the traditional cat-and-mouse routine has also changed since cats in most urban homes are well-fed and pampered, often times too lazy. Cartoonist Jim Davis already had these observations when he created his famous “Garfield” comic strips about a cat with an attitude, and so obsessed with eating its too lazy to do what normal cats do.
Modern Day Rat Expert Explains Rat Behavior During the Lockdown Period
The National Geographic report obtained explanations from famous urban rodentologist Robert Corrigan, who like Anthony Barnett lends his knowledge about rats as a consultant. Corrigan said that rodents will go anywhere once their usual food sources are gone. They actually resort to fighting each other over any leftovers, while some would even kill and eat weaker rats in order to survive. Generally, most rodents look for other food sources, using their sense of smell in navigating their way to places where they can scavenge for food.
Corrigan mentioned that once rats are able to get inside houses, they will ravage anything that strongly smells of food, from milk bottles in cribs to electrical wires, which today by the way, are now coated with soy-based materials. As an urban rodentologist, Corrigan warns that rat infestations should not be taken lightly because rodents are also carriers of diseases and viruses.
Although there is no evidence yet whether the creatures are carriers of SARS-CoV-2, Corrigan worries that as rats are now into invading city homes, they can also spread the virus since they pass through sewers full of waste matter.
Rat as Perennial Wildlife Nuisance in Rural Areas
In rural areas, rats have always be a perennial wildlife nuisance, even before the pandemic outbreak. Wildlife control experts in San Antonio, Texas, like the AAAC Wildlife Removal of San Antonio, have been dealing ran infestation problems even before the pandemic changed the lifestyle of people across the globe. In many San Antonio homes, rodents have been causing property damage; often gnawing on pipes, damaging attics, and nibbling on wires as part of their teeth-grooming habits.
Rural folks have been constantly warned about rat infestation, on why it should be taken seriously. Wildlife control experts in San Antonio not only exterminate rats but also make sure that all possible entry points through which rodents pass, are permanently sealed.
As rats are known carriers of a virus called hantavirus, which can spread by way of rat urine, nesting materials or fecal droppings, homeowners confronted with rat infestations include the cleaning of infected areas among the services requested from rat control experts.