Are a new breed of giant rats evolving on our streets? If you’re in doubt, just take a look at the beast being held aloft by Highgate resident Adrian Whitaker. Whitaker found it after he heard the snap of a mouse trap while eating his dinner last week. Pulling back his dishwasher he found the furry giant staring back at him.‘The rat was dazed by a tiny £1 mouse trap. I picked it up with a bag and frogmarched it out of the door,’ says Whitaker, before adding with a sinister flourish ‘I took some firewood to it and took a few hits to kill it.’ Whitaker estimates that the animal was about the size of a small dog, or the length of his forearm. ‘They are getting bigger in cities,’ concurs rat expert Richard Moseley, technical manager of the British Pest Control Association. ‘Food sources are more available. Food waste, especially junk food, is greater than it used to be,’ he said. According to Moseley, the standard rat measures 40 cm, although creatures measuring in at 45cm have been reported.
But if the thought of obese rats roaming the streets nonchalantly giving two claws to the capital’s rubbish collectors horrifies you, take heart: urban lore holds that the rodents lurk within six feet of you wherever you are in London, but recent research by the Food and Environment Research Agency estimates that there are 3.1 million rats in the UK’s urban areas. Even if they spread out, there’d still be only one rat every 5,000 square metres in London. So you’re actually a good 164 feet (50m) from one. Phew, you can go back to chowing down your KFC now. Rebecca Taylor