According to the NSW government, Covid-19 has led to 28 deaths within Sydney to date, making it the most affected city in Australia. This has led to strict lock down measures being put into place as an attempt to “flatten the curve” and stop the rising death tolls.
These restrictions have meant that food production within the city has come to a halt, with only takeaway options being available. Isolation and social distancing measures have been enforced, encouraging people to only leave their homes for “essential” tasks.
The streets of Sydney are normally bustling with human activity but due to the impact of Covid-19, human activity has been replaced with rat activity. This is due to the sudden reduced food supply that the rats normally survived off.
Restaurants are serving less, closing earlier and rubbish bins throughout the city are empty which means that the rats are being forced to change their behavior and turn to the suburbia of Sydney for food.
Rats have been an ongoing issue for Sydney. The city has an astounding rat population of 500 thousand to one billion, which approximately equates to 200 rats per person.
The rodents first came ashore in Sydney on European ships, possibly on the First Fleet in 1788, and are endemic throughout the city and inner suburbs. In the early 1900s Sydney public officials went on a drive to kill rats in their thousands as the global pandemic of Bubonic plague hit Australia.
Two main species make up the population; the first being the black rat or Rattus and the second being the brown rat or Rattus Norvegicus. Rats are very adaptable creatures and are capable of living in a variety of conditions.
However, they do prefer low light environments with cool temperatures. This makes Sydney’s nightlife perfect for the rodents. The rise of the rat population in Sydney has been made clear by significantly increased reported sightings and has caused concern among the Pest Control Sydney Sector.
Safe Pest Control, a Sydney pest exterminator suggests that the lack of food and wet weather has forced the rodents to seek food and shelter in suburban homes.
For example, the M4 WestConnex motorway extension opened last year, and we saw swarms of rats came out of the ground. This is a great example of the way in which increased industrialization leads to further rat sightings in suburban areas. Essentially the rats are being forced from their habitats which forces them to expand and search for a new, suitable homes.
Residents and business owners have reported increased sightings, with reports of pet cats killing the rodents as well as residents finding rats rummaging through their waste to find food. Rat Pest Control in Sydney has doubled their catching in March 2020 when compared to February 2020.
The rodents are normally nocturnal, however daytime sightings have been increasingly reported. “Normally, they’re out at night, but a hungry rat will show up during the day or show up during the night,” Dr Corrigan, an expert in the science of rodents, told Foxnews.com.
In recent years, Sydney has experienced colder weather conditions and a construction boom which forced much of the rat population out. Poor waste management and dense population are also highly influential factors on the ever-increasing rat population. Unfortunately, despite increased rat baiting being enforced, this movement of rats has led to a possible increase in reproduction due to stress on their habitat.
According to a City of Sydney spokesman, late last year the number of rat bait stations were doubled to nearly 900 as well as bait checks being increased to weekly in high activity areas. In February this year, the number of rats catching boxes was doubled by the Sydney Council from 20 to 40 and will increase to 60 in April.
These boxes caught 53 rodents in February and 128 in March with the vast majority being brown rats. This represents the significance of the explosion of rat activity in the span of a month. Sam Yehia, from Sydney’s Best Pest Control, disagrees with the Councils reaction and says “They’re just reactive policies.
They’re reacting to what the media is saying”. He believes that the increase in preventative measures will have little effect on rat population. “It will have a limited effect because it comes down to how many bait stations you’re putting down and how often you’re getting it done,” he says.
Fortunately, COVID-19 cannot be spread by rats. It seems that they are simply an explosive side effect to the mass societal changes that have come about recently. ABC News has reported that the Corona Virus pandemic may have lasting effects for up to 18 months.
How the rats will cope and adapt during this long span of change is yet to be discovered. However, Dr Corrigan has stated that due to the stress of the situation, the rats could initially panic and then turn to killing and eating one another. Perhaps COVID-19 will indirectly disrupt rats enough to alter their current population, hopefully in a positive manner.
In order to prevent rats from invading your home, ensure your gardens are well pruned and free of debris and wood piles which make perfect nesting grounds. Rat bait and traps are another option for controlling the rodents, along with filling holes and gaps within the walls of your home.
Ensure that no food is left out overnight and that your bins are securely closed. If the problem gets out of hand please contact the friendly team at Safe Pest Control on 1300 119 085 or firstname.lastname@example.org