MELROSE (CBS) – We’ve known them forever as pests, but rats are becoming a growing nuisance in several towns and cities across Greater Boston.

Security footage shows rodents crawling around a back porch in Melrose. “We don’t live, we exist here. We can’t even use our gardens. At night people are even afraid to go out, ”said one woman.

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The issue prompted a unanimous vote to demand lids on all of the city’s garbage cans.

Residents began to document their findings.

“Certainly after COVID the rat trends have changed where they used to be concentrated in the urban area, but now they are sort 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 closures could be behind the huge increase in calls.

“Within 24 to 48 hours with all of those normal food sources drying up, they went into panic mode and said we had to find another place to get us food,” Homan said. “So wherever they found it, they thrived.”

In Cambridge, the city now uses bait in people’s homes if they call for help. A new program to combat the problem.

“Rats are an inevitable part of city life, but there are definitely things the city and residents can do to help reduce the problem,” 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, remove standing water, and don’t leave bird feeders out.

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