As businesses and establishments shut down due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, rats are left to starve and may turn to cannibalism to survive – a change that may lead to smarter, and more aggressive rat breed in the future.

Rats usually feed off garbage from restaurants across America, but due to the close down of establishments, rats may be looking for new food sources according to a report by Carlos Allegri for Reuters.

Michael H. Parsons, a biological-sciences research scholar at Fordham University, told Insider that often shyer and less social rats would migrate from colonies into the public eye, but due to food shortages, may be moving into new environments.

“You have a smarter and even more resilient group of the population that have not been previously connected to humans, or at least, not observed by humans directly,” Parsons told Insider.

Bobby Corrigan, an urban rodentologist, told NBC News that the migration of the animals is a result of food shortages.

“A restaurant all of a sudden closes now, which has happened by the thousands in not just New York City but coast to coast and around the world, and 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,” Corrigan said.

He continued to explain that rats would most likely turn to cannibalism and infanticide to survive. Corrigan said in the short term, the rats will turn to limited breeding, which Parsons called a “best-case scenario,” but it could lead to stronger breed of rats in the future.

“It’s a great scenario when rats are turning on one another,” he said. “They’re literally killing one another. But the problem here is that as soon as they find new food, which invariably they will, instead of having low-ranking rats looking for entries into our residencies, we have the smartest, most resilient.”

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