The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing are to blame for aggressive rats who are now desperately searching for food.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes closed restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic are causing rodents to act strangely as the animals search for food.

"Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Rodents rely on the food and waste generated by these establishments. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas. Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food. Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior," the CDC said in updated guidance on rodent control.

In New York the lack of food is causing rats to turn on each other, with some even eating their babies, Fox News reports.

“Rats have a very low tolerance for being hungry,” Bobby Corrigan the nation's leading rat expert told NJ.com. “The strongest rats will start killing the weaker rats to get that protein instead of what the restaurant was providing, or they start moving down blocks or to areas where people have never seen rats before.”

The CDC advises New York residents and business owners to eliminate conditions that may attract rodents Preventive actions include:

  • Sealing up access into homes and businesses
  • Removing debris and heavy vegetation
  • Keeping garbage in tightly covered bins
  • Removing pet and bird food from their yards.

“We don’t want those animals in our apartments, houses, restaurants or grocery stores because you end up playing disease lottery if that happens,” Corrigan said. “You don’t want anyone of those 55 diseases.”

In New Orleans, a video showed rats taking to the streets to find food.

"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," Corrigan told NBC. "So these rats are fighting with one another, now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups."