The UK city that is being overrun by 'unbelievably big and heavy' rats...
'One of the biggest I’ve seen must have been 14 or 15 inches long'...
Birmingham is battling an invasion of rats, with more than 5,100 rodent alerts recorded in the past year.
The city has been plagued by rats as large as small cats, the Birmingham Mail reported.
City pest control officer Colin Watts told the newspaper he had seen a 2ft-long rodent, which was as “wide as a brick”, prowling the streets.
The number of calls made by homeowners to report the presence of rats on their property rose by almost 300 over the past 12 months.
Out of the 5,100 alerts recorded, the worst affected areas were the districts of Ladywood with 982 calls, Hodge Hill with 739 calls and Perry Barr with 707 calls
Mr Watts told the Birmingham Mail he saw the huge rat on Belchers Lane in Bordesley Green.
"One of the biggest I’ve seen must have been 14 or 15 inches long,” he said.
“That was just the body, without the tail.
“With its tail it would have been over 2ft. It was like a small cat.”
Earlier this month, councillors objected to plans to privatise Birmingham’s pest control services on the grounds that it could render rat catchers out of some residents’ price range.
The service has been told that it must become self-funding within two years in a bid to reduce the council’s budget by £600,000.
But Councillor Peter Kane warned against outsourcing the service.
“Although there are shortcomings in the service they are not the result of the department but of the resources they are given,” he told the newspaper.
“Our experience of outsourcing in the past has been a disaster.”
Mr Watts said some rats are as heavy as two bags of sugar.
“They’re unbelievably big and heavy when you pick them up,” he said.
“It’s because of all the food around for them in bags. They are definitely getting bigger. We just about keep things under control.”
There have been a number of reports in recent years regarding the increasing size of rodents.
In February, scientists from the University of Leicester claimed that rats could eventually grow to the size of sheep as they adapt to take advantage of larger mammals becoming extinct.
Belfast Telegraph Digital