Residents of a seaside town popular with tourists say they have been left ‘living in terror’ after being invaded by a new breed of visitor – ‘monster rats’.
Locals in Tenby, southwest Wales, fear the rodents, described as being ‘as big as cats’, are destabilising the cliffs along the picturesque coastline with their burrowing.
Boatman Roger Miles said the issue has got worse over the last few months, adding: ‘Early evenings, dusk, early morning, rats all over the place really.
‘There’s a certain area where you see parts of the cliffs at Castle Hill have been eroded.’
Another resident, Derek Brown, told the BBC: ‘It’s the structural damage they might be doing to the cliff face that is the big worry.’
A female rat typically has six litters per year, consisting of up to 12 rat pups.
They reach sexual maturity after four or five weeks, meaning a population of two can surge to a staggering 1,250 in the space of a year, with the potential to grow exponentially.
The town’s mayor, Sam Skyrme-Blackhall, said the council is ‘taking action’ and has helped roll out dozens of bait boxes in a bid to eradicate them.
But one local told The Sun: ‘You just can’t kill them quicker than they can breed. Once they’re here, they’re here to stay.
‘Besides, they’re intelligent animals so they’ll soon work out the bait is no good for them. We’re living in terror of the bloody things.’
Natalie Martin, 36, from Cardiff, told paper she and two friends visited Tenby for a weekend break.
She said they were enjoying their trip, but added ‘we never knew there were monster rats here’.
A Pembrokeshire Council spokesperson told the BBC it is ‘aware of issues with rodents and the need of additional baiting points, and are working to address this concern’.
They added: ‘We are using specialist staff to address the access to the cliff face: this may also allow us regular access for the future as well.’
The council has urged people not to feed birds or drop food.
Ms Skyrme-Blackhall told the Guardian: ‘There are members of the public who feed the birds, which feeds the rats. They think they are being kind but it’s not helping the issue at all.
‘[Also] people are not being responsible and not disposing of their rubbish in the right place, so they are putting food waste in their general rubbish, and the rats find it.
‘We have a team who deal with such problems and they started using the baiting system which they have previously used. They are doing an amazing job. The problem is being eradicated as we speak. Yes there have been issues but nothing on the volume that has been out there.’
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First appear at Residents ‘living in terror’ after town is invaded by rats ‘as big as cats’