Social Distancing Takes Toll on City’s Rodents. Check Out What NOLA Did Next.

11:02 March 24, 2020
By: Molly Kellogg

In the time of social distancing, rodents of all shapes and sizes have taken to running rampant on Bourbon street in hopes of scrounging up some food -- a task that rodents once always had success at. Due to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent social distancing measures, it has become increasingly difficult for these rodents to sustain themselves.

In response, the city has placed poison traps and laid them throughout the sewers in the French Quarter. Claudia Riegel, director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, spoke Monday on the effort, drawing attention to the fact the city had a take-charge energy in its pursuits.

Recently, a video, displaying a dozen or so rats running around on a desolate Bourbon street, went viral, making one thing clear: with the efforts of social distancing and many restaurants and bars have shut down, rats have been forced out into the open, having to rummage more extensively. That's when the rodents end up foraging into residential trash cans.

"What we have seen is these (social distancing) practices are driving our rodents crazy," Mayor LaToya Cantrell exclaimed on Sunday, in a speech regarding measures to protect the local homeless population who has to share the streets with the unusually unabashed rodents of New Orleans.

The media was informed Monday morning that Riegel and city rodent control workers would be posted up on the corner of Bourbon and Canal streets.

"We are seeing in some places elevated activity, and that's why we are here," Riegel said. "Our goal is for the next couple of months to hit it real hard here in the French Quarter and other commercial areas."

Riegel continued to note that additional crews will be pulling up once a week.

"These rats are hungry, so we want them to eat our bait," she explained. "We're going to put a lot of pressure for at least the next month, or (until) we start to see consumption tail off.

Riegel also expressed there have been no present reports of any rodent bites, and the office hasn't received many calls regarding the problem. Then again, she implores, "this is pretty new; it's only been a week and a half."

Nonetheless, residents should not leave trash bags in the street and are advised to take other precautionary measures to avoid approximation with the rodents, such as keeping sidewalks and yards free of food, not feeding birds and always picking your fruit trees. Disposing of your trash and doing so properly is key during these times.

Riegel further explains that residents should call 311 if they are to see a rodent. "There are pathogens in these rodents. Fortunately… we don't have many disease cases actually related to rodents, but the potential is there."

In addition to their previous measures - workers will place black-box bait stations lining the sidewalk. The poison causes organ failure in rats. It does not cause harm to humans or pets, for it is out of reach.

Sign Up!