Hungry rats are scurrying out of the city and into the suburbs as the coronavirus pandemic dries up their food supply.
Since Melbourne went back into lockdown three weeks ago, pest controllers have noticed a drop off in rodent activity across the city and a huge surge in call outs to surrounding areas.
With in-restaurant diners banned from the CBD under stage three restrictions, there are now less scraps for rats and mice to feast on.
‘We’re noticing quite an increase in how busy we are in the surrounding suburbs where we normally wouldn’t find them,’ Pest control technician at Adam’s Pest Control, Darren Last, told 3aw radio.
‘Most likely due to the lack of food source due to the closure of most of the cafes around the city.
‘The more human activity, the more mess … the more we’re going to get mice around.’
University of Sydney rodent expert Professor Peter Banks said rats will be one of the biggest losers of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He warned that many rats remaining in city centers will become more aggressive and turn to cannibalism.
‘They are so dependent on our garbage and our spilt food. They are wholly dependent on us. If they produce babies they can’t support, they kill them. Or one of their relatives comes in and kills them, he told the Guardian.
‘They will eat other rats that die, for sure. It’s hard to say whether they will go and kill another rat. They will not let a meal of another rat go by.
‘There are not going to be waves of rats running across the suburbs trying to get into people’s houses. But people will be seeing them in houses now, because that is the only place where there is food. If we leave bins out, they will thrive off that.’
Mr Last said there are two precautions that residents can take to avoid a plague of rats and mice descending on their home.
‘Proofing, to make sure there isn’t any way that mice and rodents are able to get through gaps (in your home) … and making sure there is no food source in external areas,’ he said.