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Rats have become more ‘brazen’ since pandemic began says expert

Grand Rapids ranked No. 29 on Orkin’s most rattiest cities. Detroit ranked No. 9 and Flint ranked 42.
Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 19:02:35-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Orkin Pest Control recently named Grand Rapids as the 29th most rattiest city in the country. Last week, they released their annual Top 50 Most Rattiest Cities list with Detroit ranked at No. 6 and Flint at No. 42.

Jim Fredericks, who’s the chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association,said anytime there’s a high density area of people living in close quarters there’s going to be a lot of garbage, which is the main food source for rats.

However, the pandemic made rat activity worse, he said.

“It isn’t surprising that we saw rat behavior change in a way that we couldn’t have predicted at the onset of the pandemic,” Fredericks said during a Zoom interview with FOX 17 on Monday. “As businesses and restaurants began to shut down across the country, fewer and fewer people were traveling into urban centers and towns to work in these high-concentration areas.”

Instead, people remained home and ordered take-out, he said. However, that led to more rats and mice venturing inside people’s home and apartments. According to the NPMA, overall aggressive behavior by rodents are up 184 percent in 2020 as compared to 2019.

“Rats went through a phase where they were becoming more brazen in their activity and people were starting to see them during the daytime,” Fredericks said. “This change in behavior was simply due to the fact that their food resources were limited.”

The NPMA also reported that people were seeing an increase in rat activity and other rodents in their cars, gardens, sheds, backyards, basements and inside their homes in the attics, bathrooms and kitchens.

He recommended people prep their homes now before the winter comes, and make sure that food is sealed in a container.

“They have a great sense of smell,” Fredericks said. “If they can smell it, they’ll chew through the container.”

Fredericks added that all human food and pet food should be put in metal trash cans and not plastic bags. He said it’s best to cover any holes in the house or apartment.

“Sealing up holes that are the size of a dime or larger, a rat can squeeze through a gap that’s a half-inch wide, is going to be your first line of defense for keeping these animals out of your living space,” Fredericks said. “And then finally I can’t stress enough, there is a way to be proactive, and that would be to call a professional.”

He said professionals know exactly what to do to keep rodents out of anyone’s home. He suggested calling one the moment someone sees a rat because rats carry diseases like Salmonella “from the dumpster out back or in the sewers onto your counter tops.” So, it’s best to get them out as quickly as possible.

“Some [films] might make them out to be cute but rodents are not a laughing matter,” he said. “So we encourage folks, if you think you have a rodent problem to call a pro.”