Humans who think no more dining in is the worst part of restaurant shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic could be in for a rude awakening: angry rats.
With rodents having lost an essential source of food during the outbreak that has shuttered restaurants across the country, there is an increased risk of unusually violent behavior as these animals continue to fight for survival, reported People.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that these animals may display "unusual or aggressive" behavior as businesses remain closed and open to limited service.
"Rodents rely on the food and waste generated by these establishments," the CDC reported. The health organization said these closures have led to a decrease in food available to rats, especially in commercial places.
The CDC urges restaurant owners to eliminate conditions that may attract rodents, including includes removing debris and pet food from the yard while sealing up locations to prevent access for the animals.
Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, said the reduction of food had caused this problem.
"It's just like we've seen in the history of mankind, where people try to take over lands, and they come in with militaries and armies and fight to the death, literally, for who's going to conquer that land," Corrigan said.
"That's what happens with rats," he continued. "A new 'army' of rats come in, and whichever army has the strongest rats is going to conquer that area."
Corrigan said that amid the shortage, rats have begun "battling each other for the food they can find."
He added that as they face starvation, some rats have even turned to eating their young.
"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," he explained. "So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups."
The CDC says that as rodents begin moving to new locations in search of food, they can also bring fleas and other diseases. The Washington Post reports that their urine can also worsen allergies and asthma, particularly in children.
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