For months the Coronavirus pandemic has kept New York state residents indoors, and businesses closed after a legally mandated state-wide lockdown was announced. The state-wide lockdown was set to expire on May 15th, but many towns and cities in the state will remain under lockdown until June 13th unless they can meet all the conditions necessary for reopening. Many New York residents have not enjoyed isolating themselves indoors, and as it turns out, the Norway rats that populate urban areas throughout the state are not doing well without humans.
New York City is often cited for its massive Norway rat population, but rats are common pests of homes in all populated areas in the state. A recent study that saw researchers analyze rodent control service records in all US states found that a total of six cities in New York were among the top 50 most rat-infested metropolitan areas in the country. This makes New York the rattiest state in the US, and the runner-up was California with four cities on the top 50 list. Of course, New York City was ranked third, but those living outside of the state may be surprised to learn that Buffalo was ranked 28, Albany was 32, Burlington was 43, Rochester was 45, and Syracuse was 46.
Norway rats only thrive in cities because they rely on human activity, specifically the tremendous amounts of food thrown into restaurant and supermarket dumpsters. However, given that restaurants and grocery stores have been either closed or have substantially reduced their operating hours in New York, urban rats have been deprived of their only food source. This food shortage has pushed rats to violently fight for available food sources or to cannibalize the losers, but instances of rats cannibalizing their young have also been reported.
Rats have been moving into suburban areas throughout New York in droves where they have been making bold efforts to obtain human food sources. Calls from homeowners to pest control companies and extension services about rat pest issues have skyrocketed throughout the state during the past 30 days, and the rats have not been shy about showing themselves in the daytime. In fact, after one resident discovered rats nesting in her car engine where they destroyed wiring, her mechanic informed her that auto service companies in the area suddenly started receiving calls about rats nesting in cars three weeks ago, and these calls have become overwhelming.
Have you witnessed any rats within your home or outdoors during the daytime hours?