Animals have been partying when humans entered quarantine. Increasing sightings of bears, raccoons, even elephants on human crop fields have been caught on camera. Now, another animal made its grand entrance: rats. In London, these scurriers have been emerging from the dark to venture through the once busy streets. “There’ll be something in there for sure,” Pest controller Michael Coates says, examining trash bins for evidence of rats. “Rats are like little survival machines; wherever you get reliable access to food waste, they’ll keep coming back.”
Pest controllers state that restaurant customers drop less food, leaving less scraps for rats to eat. Therefore, the rats are forced to migrate into more residential areas to find their source of nutrition. The piling of waste and food scraps at home lured in rats and increased the sightings and population. The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) reported a 51% increase in rodent activity during the first lockdown, and in the spring of 2020, a 78% hike in November after the lockdown. BPCA have not yet calculated the sightings this year, but can attest that there are definitely more sightings.
One rat incident was when an old lady who used to feed her robins called the pest controllers. By the time they were called, there were already around a dozen rats having a chill time in the lady’s flower beds. Another incident was when Paul Claydon, another pest controller said he killed a whole colony trying to eat an unsuspecting family pet lodged inside a rabbit hutch.
There are a few problems with this rat infestation. These rats have been eating a lot, so not only are they bigger (now up to 40 centimeters, or 15.7 inches), but fairly strong too. They are able to chew through hard substances like soft metals and brick. Some rats even mutated, so they are now immune to the chemicals and rat repellent that exist. Adding on, most of the rats learned how to stay away from traps, decreasing their death rate. Exterminators claim that soon, the rats could multiply up to 20 million. Just one breeding pair of rats can give birth to around 1,250 offspring in a year. Surprisingly enough, London residents are becoming more accustomed to their rat infested neighborhood, and London doesn’t seem to have an overarching plan.