Apparently, we aren't the only ones missing the old days when restaurants were vibrant and full of customers. With the lack of local restaurants doing normal business because of COVID-19, hungry rats are scurrying for food.

This is part of the "unintended consequences" of the closure of pubs, restaurants, hotels, public attractions and schools. While rodents typically find food within 300-500 feet from their underground nests, they've had to expand their territory lately. Have you seen any rats around your neighborhood, and perhaps in the light of day, since the pandemic started?

While rats don't transmit the coronavirus, they can be carriers of salmonella, and other diseases that vermin spread to humans through infected urine or droppings, or indirectly by carrying ticks or fleas that then bite humans and transmit the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning that fewer restaurants equal less food for these critters. The CDC is also sounding the alarm bells saying rats are now going to neighborhoods they haven't gone to before and even exhibiting unusual and aggressive behavior because they're so stressed over a shortage of food.

I'm going to pass along some common sense things to consider and the first is stop throwing that stale bread or crackers for the birds and squirrels to eat because it will attract new four-legged neighbors. Clean around the grill where food might have dropped on the ground. Patch up any holes around the house because these things can squeeze into an opening the size of a quarter. And make an extra effort to carefully dispose of any garbage, keeping your bleached and clean receptacle as far away from the house as possible.

Remember, rats have been around for a very long time, and they're very skilled at adaption. If you see a problem, call a professional.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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