By Kristina Rex

MELROSE (CBS) – Forever we’ve known them as just pests, but rats are becoming a greater nuisance in several Greater Boston cities and towns.

Security footage shows the rodents crawling around a Melrose back porch. “We’re not living, we are existing here. We can’t even use our yards. At nighttime people are afraid to even go outside,” one woman said.

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The problem prompted a unanimous vote to require lids on all trash bins in the city.

Residents have started documenting their findings.

“Certainly after COVID, the rat tendencies have changed where they used to be focused in the city area but now they are kind of branching out into the suburbs,” said Eric Homan of Ultra Safe Pest Management.

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Pest control experts say early COVID restaurant shutdowns could be to blame for the huge uptick in calls.

“Within 24 to 48 hours with all those normal foods sources is drying up, they went in panic mode and said we’ve got to find somewhere else to find us food,” Homan said. “So wherever they found it, they have been thriving.”

In Cambridge, the city is now using bait at people’s homes if they call for help. A new program to fight the problem.

“Rats are an unavoidable part of city life, but there are definitely things that both the city can do, and residents can do to help make the problem less,” said Dan Riviello of the Cambridge City Manager’s Office.

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To keep rats away, experts say residents should cover their trash, eliminate standing water and don’t leave out birdfeeders.

Kristina Rex