Deep within our city sewers, a new breed of genetically mutated ‘giant rats’, immune to poison, are spreading at alarming speeds.
Scientists have now begun charting their rapid invasion into new communities by monitoring their progress in 17 counties in the UK.
In counties such as Berkshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Kent, all the rats tested were found to have immunity to poison.
Places such as Shropshire and South Gloucestershire had slightly less resilient rats with immunity levels at 33 per cent, and 50 per cent respectively.
Around 30 per cent of rats in Kingston are immune to poison, in Sheffield it is 40 per cent, while 75 per cent of rats in Southampton are immune.
A giant, 2ft (0.6 metres) long rat caught in Liverpool. A swarm of ‘super rats’ spotted across the country is expected to outnumber humans two to one by next year
Research earlier this year found that the swarm of ‘super rats’ spotted across the country is expected to outnumber humans two-to-one by next year.
For the very first time, the Tonight programme, which airs at 7.30pm BST on ITV, will show footage and images of these tested ‘super rats’.
‘They also damage buildings…they cost billions of pounds of damage worldwide.’
‘With the use of rodenticides, that will kill off the normal rats, and then the resistant ones will remain.
‘So it’s a sort of time bomb of resistance building up over generations of rats.’
RAT KILLERS NEED STRONGER POISON TO COPE WITH RISE IN VERMIN
The decision about the future regulation of rodent poison – mainly because of secondary poisoning to birds of prey and other animals – is expected this autumn.
Dr Clarke explained how the costs of pest control will escalate as a result of these poison-tolerant rats.
‘Unless there’s new legislation for the more toxic poisons and maybe for the more lax use of them, then it will have to be the more physical forms of killing the rats,’ he said.
‘The costs are going to escalate because of the monitoring and the picking off of the rats, and the dead bodies.’
Jack Russell Max, owned by Royal Tunbridge Wells resident Mark Willmott, caught one of the large rats whose numbers are increasing around the country. And the problem is not just confined to Britain. Other huge rodents have been caught recently in homes in Stockholm and Dublin
Scientists have now begun charting their rapid invasion into new communities by monitoring their progress in 17 counties in the UK. Pictured are the counties in which all the rats tested were immune to poison
Figures have revealed that, in some regions of the UK, the number of vermin has already surged by 50 per cent since April last year.
And experts believe the rat population could soar from 80 million to 160 million by the end of the year.
In April, a 2ft (0.6 metres) long rat was captured in Cornwall while other monster rats have been reported in Kent and in Liverpool.
Rats thrive in damp and soggy weather – of which the UK has seen plenty during the wettest year on record. Vermin are also swapping rural areas for the big city.
They can carry illnesses which can be passed to humans, including Weil’s disease, which has flu-like symptoms initially but can lead to jaundice and kidney failure.
RATS COULD ONE DAY GROW TO BE BIGGER THAN COWS, CLAIMS STUDY
Giant rats, the size of cows or even bigger, could one day fill a ‘significant chunk’ of Earth’s emptying ecospace.
The terrifying scenario could become a reality as super-adaptable rats take advantage of larger mammals becoming extinct, an expert predicts.
‘Animals will evolve, over time, into whatever designs will enable them to survive and to produce offspring,’ said geologist Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, from the University of Leicester.
For instance, in the Cretaceous Period, when the dinosaurs lived, there were mammals, but these were very small, rat and mouse-sized, because dinosaurs occupied the larger ecological niches
Only once the dinosaurs were out of the way did these tiny mammals evolve into many different forms.
‘Given enough time, rats could probably grow to be at least as large as the capybara, the world’s largest rodent, that lives today, that can reach 80 kilos (17lb).
‘If the ecospace was sufficiently empty, then they could get larger still.’