UK facing plague of 300m super-rats that have beefed-up scoffing takeaway scraps
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Britain faces being overrun by a plague of up to 300 million super-rats that have grown obese by feasting on fatty takeaway scraps.
Experts say their growing resistance to rodenticides, which have been used since the 1950s, and our dependence on calorie-laden fast food is behind the surge.
There are also fears there are more than ever of them secretly entrenched and breeding in the walls, basements and attics of people’s walls since lockdown.
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Pest controller Craig Morris, 53, who has “ratted” for the last 15 years across Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, warned: “Rats are becoming more of an issue.
“They are one of nature’s amazing survivors. They have exploited everything we do and done it really well.”
He added the booming rat population is also being caused by the increased availability of food due to rising human waste as well as poor sanitation and hygiene.
Steve Belmain, a professor of ecology at the Natural Resources Institute at Greenwich University, London, said about the UK’s rat numbers: “I could easily imagine 200 to 300 million rats here.”
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He is one of the world’s foremost rodent researchers and has been leading a project trapping rats across livestock farms in Norfolk and Essex to test for the prevalence of disease.
The biggest rat on record to have been caught in Britain, by a Bournemouth pest hunter in 2018, measured 21 inches in length – as big as a small dog.
Recent sightings of monster rats have included seven of them crawling out of a bin near a McDonald’s branch in Hull.
One recent home infestation attended by Craig had seen one rat chew its way through the back of a bread bin and eat the loaf inside.
He added: “What might sound horrific to most people is just an everyday occurrence to me, I’m afraid.”
Scientists say rats’ teeth are as strong as steel which can chew through concrete.
They also warn their extreme intelligence lets them to map out pathways through our homes, and they have bodies so flexible they can squeeze themselves around the U-bend of a toilet pipe.
Last month, residents in the Welsh seaside town of Tenby warned “rats as big as cats” had invaded after burrowing into the sea cliffs.
And in December, a study claimed around 78% of rats had developed genetic resistance to anticoagulants.
Their disease-carrying urine is also suspected to be causing outbreaks of salmonella and leptospirosis.
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- Super Rats
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