What Is a 'Super Rat'? It Has Nothing to Do With Super Powers

Every night while taking out my trash lately, I've noticed small tears and bite marks on the garbage bag. I convinced myself it was the usual wear and tear but I think we all know where this is going. Heck, I've even spotted mice, bold as brass, scurrying across the sidewalk during the daylight hours.

So why are there pests giving me problems and running around during the day? According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an increase of rodents because they are actively searching for a new food source because of the effects of the pandemic. Rodents are hungrier now than before because restaurants, the non-essential establishments that do not deliver, have stopped throwing away leftover foods and unfinished waste. There has been more demand for pest control programs because rats and mice are transitioning into an "unusual or aggressive behavior."

Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News, "Those rats that were living by that restaurant, some place nearby, and perhaps for decades having generations of rats that depended on that restaurant food. Well, life is no longer working for them, and they only have a couple of choices."

Rat
A giant inflatable rat makes its way down the street in midtown New York City November 26, 2019 where it will sit outside a company's office in New York. - American unions have been using ballooned rodents to highlight unfair labor practises since the 1990s. But the National Labor Relations Board, a US federal agency, is going to the courts to try to stop them, in what unions say is an attack on free speech. AFP via Getty Images/TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Since the rats are starving and becoming more aggressive, this means they are desperate enough to try out anything and that's where the "super" of it all comes into play. Normal rats might discover they are "Super Rats" by trying more aggressive behaviors, learning in the process that they have an immunity to some pellets and other over-the-counter pesticides.

Super rat or no, all rats get hungry, and when they do, they get nasty too. "These rats are fighting with one another; now the adults are killing the young in the nest and cannibalizing the pups," added Corrigan.

So just imagine a rat about the size of a cat, angry as heck, seeking food. In the video above, you actually see hordes of rats swarming the empty streets of the Big Apple. It's a frightening sight and what's worse, rats do carry and transmit disease if they scratch an unsuspecting individual.

Michael H. Parsons, a biological-sciences research scholar at Fordham University, warned Insiderabout a more aggressive breed of rats in the future. Parsons predicts, "We could have more resilient rats available for a possible second wave of the pandemic."

Just don't expect these "Super Rats" to evolve into an entirely new species because of the shutdowns. Matthew Combs, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University, told Miami Herald, "Yes, food shortages may act as a selection pressure, but no, this wont drastically change the species trajectory, and overall behavior or phenotype."

As for my garbage bag problem, I'm going to have to buy a trash can and make sure the lid is sealed up tightly. But if these rats are duking it out for food, it's going to take more than glue traps from an exterminator.