Life Under Lockdown

Rats and COVID19

The National Pest Technicians Association in the UK had warned us that closing restaurants, tourist attractions and public parks could result in some unexpected consequences. With the closure of those destinations, there is no activity around them, so there is no rubbish being generated. Without the rubbish and food waste in the litter bins around, there is no food for pests, mainly rats and other rodents. As a consequence, the lack of food boosts the movement of large groups of rats. The rodents are simply searching for new food sources.

Table of Contents:

This post is for you if:

  • You own property, residential or commercial;
  • You have a garden or a backyard;
  • You store food in larger quantities;
  • You suspect there might be rodents in your property.

How the pandemic affects rat populations

Rats have excellent scent and can follow the aroma of a fresh food source located far away. As rodents, they can stand hunger and will do anything to get fed. Travelling from one part of town to another is not an issue. This migration of rats can result in a rat infestation in areas, where rodents have never been a problem before. On the other hand, if one rat colony enters the territory of another, this will result in many small skirmishes, as rats are highly territorial animals, and could get cannibalistic when desperate for food.

Highly populated areas, which already have rats, may or may not have a couple of thousands more, coming their way. This will result in more domestic infestations and the commercial premises that are not working during the pandemic, might become overrun by rodents by the time they return back in business. Those large numbers of rats pose a health risk, and can cause property damages. Besides attacking your food supplies and gardens.

Learn more about the rat control service we offer by visiting our main website.

Can the pandemic help us deal with rat populations

The hunger will make rats more vulnerable than ever. Because of their migration, they will end up in a new territory, that they don’t know as well. So they will be vulnerable before setting up nests and finding safe pathways to the food source and back.

A hungry rat is more likely to fall for a baited trap. Rodents are usually very suspicious of new items in their habitat, but in this case the whole habitat is new. The urge to chew on something is also putting pressure on them and they will go for the bait.

During the rat migration and their search of food, they are becoming more active throughout the day. This gives more time for the local rat exterminators to set traps and it makes it easier to locate rodent hiding spots. On top of that, now rats are more vulnerable to various hunters, which can potentially feed on them like hawks, coyotes, cats and snakes. Now, this could result in an unexpected consequence, because it may boost the snake population in the affected area, or invite coyotes to rural areas. Communities must pay close attention to what is happening around them and call for action from local councils and pest control professionals.

These are hard times for rats as well, we now have a good leverage we can use to drastically lower the population of rodents.

Will domestic rat infestations increase in numbers

It is a logical aftermath. First of all, because of the lockdown and the quarantine there is a large cut in food supply for rodents on the streets. On the other hand, all of the meals that were usually consumed outside, are now cooked in our homes. We are stacking more supplies in our properties, which is inviting pests inside. On top of that, while spending this much time inside, we are naturally generating more rubbish. This is another invitation for rats to storm our homes.

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The population of rats may or may not drastically change in numbers. However, their environment will change, their active hours as well. After the lockdown is over, and people start to roam outside freely, there will be a moment when our habits and dwellings will intercept with those of the rats. Encounters will dramatically increase. This will most likely result in a spike of rat control requests, both domestic and commercial.

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Can rats transmit COVID-19

There are no proven cases of COVID-19 sick rats, let alone rodents that transmitted the disease to a human, or other rodents.

However… the two most “active” COVID nests in the world today are located in the USA. A country that generates roughly 270 million tons of rubbish per year. 40 million tons of that rubbish is food, for which the rats are pretty happy.

One of those hot-spots is New York, a city notorious for the number of rats dwelling in its gutters and sewer pipes. At the time we are writing this, there are 170,534 confirmed cases in NYC.

Another active hotspot is New Orleans, which apparently also has a serious rat problem. In recent times, New Orleans had a death rate four times higher than that in New York.

This video should serve as food for thought. Rats are known to transmit several other pathogens. More than 50, in fact.

Moreover, if we can transmit the virus on our finger tips, it would be possible for rats to transmit it on their fur, paws and tails. Those rodents are inhabiting our sewer lines, so it is safe to say that they don’t have a great level of personal hygiene.

The Important Role of Pest Control These Days

The UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, mister George Eustice confirmed pest control as an essential service during the pandemic. Pest exterminators are legally allowed to continue providing their services, in order to protect our properties and our food storages. Pest control professionals are constantly overlooking the current situation and are always ready to take preventative measures. As a property owner, it is your duty to keep a close eye for any signs of pests and deal with them as soon as possible, not letting an infestation to develop and spread around.

Pest exterminators will probably have a busy few months, after the Covid-19 situation. They will have the heavy task of dealing with pests, returning them to their usual territories and decreasing their numbers.


  • Rat colonies are moving in search of food;
  • Because of the pandemic, rats are vulnerable to traps and baits;
  • Domestic infestations might rise in numbers;
  • Our food storages may be targeted by rats;
  • There might be a connection between rats and the spread of COVID19.


What do you think will happen? Will we be able to keep the rat population down, or they will flourish and expand to new territories? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Image source: Shutterstock / Heiko Kiera

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