Invasion of the mutant rats - parts of Bristol overrun
PARTS of Bristol are being overrun by rats, which can be seen scavenging for food in broad daylight in some areas.
Photos taken at Imperial Retail Park in Hartcliffe show large rats, which are normally nocturnal, out in the open with traffic and shoppers only yards away.
On Tuesday The Post reported an infestation of rats at the St Philip's Wholesale Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Market in Albert Crescent.
A worker based at the site reported seeing more than 100, describing some as "pretty big".
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Bristol City Council environmental health officers, pollution control and pest control officers are working with the market, waste contractor SITA and neighbouring private landowners to deal with the issue.
Experienced pest controller Ian Thomas says seeing the creatures anywhere during the day indicates a large number of rodents in the area, forcing some to scavenge in the daylight to get their share of food.
Mr Thomas, of Chew Valley Pest Control, has worked in the trade for 20 years and says some city centre areas – including raised flower beds near the Hippodrome – are overrun.
He says the mild winter, wet weather and the excessive use of bird feed are the main reasons for the surge.
In October The Post reported that academics at Huddersfield University found mutant, poison-resistant rats multiplying in Bristol and nearby areas during an 18-month study.
Mr Thomas says while he has not seen a greater resistance to poison he expects to get busier each year and now considers himself the "fourth emergency service".
Although the council says it has not logged an increase in complaints about rats, Mr Thomas said: "There are definitely more rats than there were last year."
He says people are surprised by the rats' size because they have been able to gorge on food that people do not dispose of properly.
At Imperial Park some shoppers said they were plagued with rats in their gardens and confirmed sightings of "unusually large" rats.
Mum Amy Stadden, 25, who lives in Nover's Lane, said: "I have seen the rats here a few times during the day. They are massive – 12 inches long I reckon – and they seem to be very brave.
"I would never let my child play in the car park because I worry that they have got used to us and would bite them."
Kate Turner, 27, who works at Imperial Park, said: "I have seen them by the bins a few times and they are horrible creatures."
Maurice Garrett, 66, who lives nearby, said he and his wife had problems with rats in their garden.
"We have had to stop feeding the birds because the rats started turning up in broad daylight.
"They definitely seem to be getting much bigger and a lot more brazen."
Dean Nichols, 25, of Nover's Lane, said: "I have seen them a few times and they are pretty big.
"It's strange because you don't expect to see them out during the day and I'm sure some people who use the complex find it pretty unnerving."
A council spokesman said the environmental health department was aware of an issue at Imperial Park and was working with the owners.
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