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PICTURED: Rise of the super-rat? Some facts about the 'mutant' rodents
Could a plague of over-sized rodents be sweeping the country or is it a different nature of beast altogether - a load of media hype?
This week one sorry-looking animal was shown laid out on a pink spade on a beach, reportedly in Gravesend.
So-called “super rats” have been spotted elsewhere across the UK including, Tunbridge Wells, Hampstead, Liverpool, Cornwall.
Some believe the rats are getting bigger in response to poison resistance.
Sé Mckendry, 37, from Northern Ireland, told News Shopper: “These huge rats have been in my loft for over three years now and I have trapped 58 to date, can’t get rid of them - no poison works.”
Their reproductive cycle means their numbers can rise alarmingly quickly.
A British Pest Control Association (BPCA) spokesman said: “The gestation period of rats is around 22 days and they reach sexual maturity by 8 to 12 weeks. That means resistant rats have the ability to multiply rapidly.”
Their activity is hugely affected by the weather.
News Shopper reported back in February how the creatures were growing sneakier due to wetter conditions.
The flooding encouraged the critters to sneak through holes and travel up drainpipes to escape build new lives for themselves in people’s comfy lofts and houses.
Pest controller Rentokil reported on its website that the razor-toothed mammals are simply seeking drier places to dwell following the adverse conditions.
Rise in food waste has also been blamed.
Rare breeds expert Wayne May said: “The picture looks like a large, oversized brown rat due to current climate and the increase food waste.”
Director Julie Barratt advised back in February the importance of blocking up holes and making sure food is disposed of properly. She said rats were “intelligent, adaptable creatures” that “exploit new opportunities”.
She added: "It's really important people remember when throwing food out, to try to keep it out of the way of pest species”.
The mystery continues over whether these are mutant rats, a different species or. in some cases, a clever use of perspective.
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