Pest control workers have issued a dire warning after receiving a surge in call-outs about rats scurrying out of people's toilets.
Rodents the 'size of cats' are sneaking up U-bends after a huge increase in the population during the pandemic, they claim.
Experts say that they can tread water for 'up to three days' and are warning people to rat proof their homes so they don't get a nasty surprise.
Pest control expert Ian Helands warned: “I have had more call-outs than ever from homeowners who have heard a noise, looked down into their toilet only to find a giant rat.
“No-one is safe. Rats are excellent swimmers with bendy bones and can squeeze into the smallest of spaces.
“They can hold their breath for three minutes and tread water for three days, and they are coming up waste pipes. They’re cunning and getting bolder and bolder. Basically, if they want to get into your home, they will.”
There is now estimated to be a record 150 million rats in the United Kingdom — more than twice the human population of the islands.
Working at home and abandoned restaurant kitchens during lockdown are thought to have contributed to the boom.
Mr Helands claims rat numbers have increased by 25% each year since the beginning of Covid, and warned: “People are scared and they should be. There are more rats than ever and they are taking over. I have seen some the size of cats.”
Ways of pest proofing your home include getting rat gates for water pipes, which he says used to standard in "very rural areas" and "near canals" but are now being recommended in built-up housing areas.
Disturbing footage last week showed punters having the fright of their lives at a Wetherspoons pub when they spotted a rat scurrying around the their feet.
Sean Maguire and his friends were drinking inside the Bishop Vesey in Birmingham on Thursday, May 12, when the furry animal ran across the restaurant floor.
In the video he filmed, the 23-year-old trainee teacher is heard shouting: "Guys, there is a rat in the Bishop."
Other drinkers are seen reacting with horror as they stand on chairs and tables to keep themselves away from the rodent.
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