Fact or Fiction: Giant Rats
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Fact or Fiction: Giant Rats
With the national media whipped up into a frenzy over giant rats, we thought we’d get in on the action with a round-up of rodent-related reports. But which one is taking the mickey (mouse)?
1 Max and the rat
Make that ‘truly disgusted’ of Tunbridge Wells. The ever reliable Star on Sunday reported last month that Royal Tunbridge Wells was being “terrorised by giant mutant rats” and that bright locals feared a repeat of the plague. The town is 40 miles from London though no upper-class rat has yet hailed a taxi for a day out in the capital. One resident saw a rat “launching itself at his bird feeder” and said “I have never seen such a big rat before. They are very agile, like squirrels”. A photo showed a Jack Russell, called Max, carrying a huge rat in its mouth.
2 Rat rat
As every gangster film fan knows, ‘a rat’ is someone who grasses up their associates to the authorities. But in Newcastle last year, something rather more literal occurred. Bedroom cannabis cultivator Mark Jones thought his illicit enterprise was safely hidden during an inspection by social landlord Magnet Housing; but, alas, pet rat ‘Higgins’ decided to chew through a cable that was powering his wardrobe-entombed pot programme – the resulting bang and hazy plume alerting the stunned inspectors. Jones was evicted and prosecuted. Higgins was rehoused and, rather unfairly given the circumstances, caged.
3 99 problems
In New York, a giant rat terrorising residents of the Marcy Houses project was stabbed to death by a housing worker yielding a pitch fork. Jose Rivera impaled the huge rodent back in 2011 while filling in rat holes at the housing complex in Brooklyn, where the rapper Jay-Z grew up. Animal experts later identified it as a Gambian pouched rat, which are nocturnal, can grow to three feet, weigh four pounds or more and live seven or eight years. Marcy Houses Tenant Association head Naomi Colon said cats in the local area feared it.
4 Coypu capers
Back in 2010, the nation’s favourite newspaper, The Sun, reported that a 30-inch long rat had been shot dead on a housing estate in Bradford, sparking fears that ‘super rats’ could be at large. Ravenscliffe estate resident Brandon Goddard told the red top that four other rats of a similar size scuttled away during the shooting. But local councillor Carol Beardmore played down the purported plague saying The Sun had (surprisingly) exaggerated the incident and used a picture of a coypu – a plant-eating semi-aquatic rodent from South America – to illustrate the story, a creature highly unlikely to be prowling the streets of a Yorkshire city.
5 Rats, the size of blooming cats
Be careful what you allow to sit on your lap in Birmingham – the rats are turning into cats. Council pest controller Colin Watts reported spotting a vast rat, which he said was as “wide as a brick”. The clearly shaken Mr Watts claimed the beast was, “one of the biggest I’ve seen…With its tail it would have been over 2ft. It was like a small cat”. Birmingham recorded 5,100 rat alerts last year. Of further reassurance to the city’s inhabitants, the council has said that its pest control service must become self-sufficient within two years so £600,000 can be cut from the budget. Just in time for the rat apocalypse, then.
6 Once upon a tractor
Giant rats are unlikely to buy Clive Dunn’s hit single ‘Granddad (we love you)’ after County Durham’s Brian Watson murdered what was believed to be the UK’s largest rat with a piece of wood in 2012. Watson made the mistake of posting a picture of the four-foot (1.3-meter) rat on Twitter, attracting thousands of complaints of animal cruelty. The rodent was first spotted by the boyfriend of Watson’s granddaughter while on a tractor (the boyfriend, not the rat). Keeping to tradition, Mr Watson said “I’ve never seen a rat as big in my life before”.