Invasion of the super rats: There are more of them than ever – and they’re BIGGER than ever. And it’s all due to junk food in our unemptied bins
- Rodents could be growing as humans did after the Industrial Revolution
- There are more than 80million of them in the UK, at least one per person
- Rats have neophobia – fear of new things – so they simply run around traps
- Last year gnawing was blamed for electrical fire which gutted six coaches
‘D’you see?’ asks Adrian Timms, bending forward and pointing into the mess. Before me is half a dead rat — the best part of a torso, a pair of chunky hind legs, and a thick, snake-like tail.
Where there should be a head, there’s a gaping wound, the surrounding fur matted with dried blood.
Rats! The number of calls to Birmingham’s rodent-catchers has increased 300 in the last year
Adrian, 47, is a rat-catcher. Five years ago, after packing in a career in IT to ‘spend more time with nature’, he set up Pestforce Birmingham with his father David, 73.
Today, they’re taking me on a tour of the city to seek out the ‘giant rats’ which are reported to be terrorising the population.
There have been 5,100 calls to the city council’s rat-catchers in the past year — 300 more than in the 12 months before — with some people claiming to have seen ‘cat-sized’ creatures ‘wide as bricks’ stalking the streets.
Adrian agrees, saying he’s seen one that was 17in long.
It may all sound rather far-fetched — but there’s plenty of scientific evidence showing that rats are getting bigger.
‘Creatures can certainly change in size,’ says Robin Allaby, professor in evolutionary genetics at Warwick University.
He points out that humans became bigger with improved nutrition — for example people got larger after the Industrial Revolution because of the increase in the amount of meat in their diet.
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