Giant 4-foot-long monster rat’ found in children’s playground in London could be African species
The creature is believed to be a cane rat, with experts believing the rodents could be breeding in London’s sewers
The creature, believed to be a giant rat, was said to be bigger than a cat or a Jack Russell.
Gas engineer Tony Smith, 46, saw the rodent, which he claimed was up to 4 feet long, while working at a block of flats in London.
The large rodent, which reportedly weighed about 25lbs, was seen in a bush next to a popular children’s playground.
The average body length of an adult rat is 9 to 11 inches, with a tail of 7 to 9 inches.
Pest-control experts at Rentokil believe the rodents could be breeding below the city streets.
A spokesperson explained the average brown rat in the UK is just one foot in length, compared to the two feet rodent discovered in Hackney.
A spokesperson for the pest control company said: “As a comparison the body of your average brown rat is up to 40cm in length with a tail shorter than the head and body, and about 350g – 500g in weight.
“They prefer ground living and burrowing but sometime have been know to climb. In urban areas there is often ready access to food, water and shelter.
“The brown rat is the only species to occur in sewers in the UK.”
Some have claimed the rat is not, in fact, giant but there is a perspective trick involved.
Shop owners at Ridley Road market, which has over 180 stalls selling African, Asian and Caribbean food, were keen to condemn the selling of grasscutter rats, but some said they had heard rumours of rare African cuts being sold illegally.
Nazam Ali, who has run a fruit and vegetable stall at Ridley Road Market for 15 years, says he is aware of people selling bush meat like monkey at the market.
Mr Ali, 44, said: “I think people keep it under cover. There’s a demand for it, things like bush meat.
“Maybe grasscutter rats are being sold, I don’t know.
“People want to eat what they had back home and it’s harder to get hold of here in Britain.”
The creature was found dead near to an area where children play, which backed onto a railway track near Hackney Downs, north London on Thursday.
Mr Smith asked his electrician friend James Green to hold the rat while he took a picture.
His friends have reacted to the image with a mixture of ‘glee and disgust’.
Mr Smith said: “This is the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
“I’ve got a cat and a Jack Russell and it was bigger than both of those put together.
“I’d say it was about four foot.
“We were going to stick it in the bin, but before we did we thought we had better take a picture or people won’t believe it’s real.”
The gas engineer said this wasn’t the only rat problem they had encountered in the estate where he was working.
He claimed there has been an infestation of giant rats, which is being combated with poison.
He said: “The bins get left open nearby so these little fellas have a pretty good diet.
“They eat fried chicken and rice all the time.”
Zoologists believe the rodent could be a West African grasscutter rat, also known as a cane rat.
There have been incidents where grasscutter rat meat has been illegally sold on London markets near to where the large rat was found.
In 2012 the illegal rat meat, which is a delicacy in Ghana, was discovered being sold on Ridley Road market in the Dalston area of Hackney, east London, and in Brixton.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was not aware of any recent incidents and added that the meat is usually smuggled into the country in suitcases and often prevented from entering the country by customs officers.
The FSA said: “The FSA has not received any reports of cane rat meat being sold in the UK since 2012. However, local authorities may be aware of incidents in their area and taken action.
“It is the job of local authorities to monitor food businesses to ensure they are not selling cane rat or other illegal meat. Illegal meat will not have met the strict hygiene rules that are in place to protect the public. If anyone suspects illegal meat is being sold, they should report this to their local authority.”
It’s probably not that big. Our pest control team are checking it out though
However, a data scientist has worked out the rat’s body is two foot long – which is still large for a rat. It’s also the average size grasscutter rats grow to at maturity, weighing in at about 19lbs.