WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Rodent infestations are a growing problem in the district, according to an official with DC Health.

“The rat problem has increased city wide,” said Gerard Brown, program manger of rodent and vector control for DC Health.

Brown said changing habits during the pandemic played a big role.

“The way we lived changed. When all the rest of us shut down, the rats didn’t have food in their usual places and they spread out to the residential areas, to residential trash,” he explained.

Plus, as more people ordered take out and delivery, more food containers made their way into residential garbage cans.

“What happens is a lot of people don’t wash those containers out. They don’t use the garbage disposal. So that’s more food waste in the alleyways,” said Brown.

James Matthews, who works in the northwest DC said he’s noticed more rats on the streets.

“I can’t stand it. I stay away from them,” said Matthews. “Some of them be lying around dead. Some of them almost bigger than cats.”

In the Logan Circle neighborhood residents said several alleyways leading to P Street are particularly bad, including one next to Whole Foods.

“Sometimes it’s hard to cross the alleyway because there’s too much rats you can’t even walk,” said Pedro Cistillo, who lives in the neighborhood. “Sometimes I have to go the other way to avoid them, especially at night.”

Wednesday, Brown along with city and neighborhood leaders walked through Logan Circle looking for rat infestations, citing problem businesses, educating people about what attracts rats and putting out rodenticide.

Councilmember Brooke Pinto was on that walk.

In a statement she said, “We all have a role to play in addressing rodent infestation in our city. In both last year’s and this year’s budget, I fought for the inclusion of a trash compactor program to ensure that businesses and restaurants can better contain their trash before pick up days.”

“Today, my team and I met with DC Health and DCRA to work together in addressing areas where we’ve seen the proliferation of rodents. I encourage residents to visit DC Health’s website to learn more about ways to reduce rodent activity,” she continued.

Brown said if your garbage can is full, to avoid putting out more trash until it’s ready to be picked up. And, for people to wash food containers before throwing them out.

If not, he said, “if you don’t follow the recommendations, we’ll probably be back here in a year talking about the same thing.”

To report a rodent issue, call 3-1-1.