Rats 'the size of cats' sighted in north Cumbrian town
A clean-up operation is underway after rats the size of cats were spotted by residents.
Environmental health officers from Allerdale council have been alerted to an infestation of rodents in Wigton by the town council.
Townsfolk have complained to the authority about the problem over the last three months - and environmental health officers carried out an inspection which found a few areas of "potential harbourage" for rats.
Reports suggest that sightings have been made in a number of locations in and around the town centre, with environmental health officers urging people to take action.
Mary Huntington, who owns Baskets and Bunches in High Street, was one of the people who made a complaint to the town council.
She said: "I saw a squashed one right outside the front of my shop the size of a cat.
"There was one on the fence outside the NatWest bank too.
"There's a family in Manor Court that have got rat traps out and they have caught five or six.
"It was that squashed one that led me to make a complaint. I thought it was time something was done about it.
"There have been some about in alleyways. There's too much food left out, the seagulls think it's heaven."
Rats are commonly known to be responsible for the transmission of several diseases.
A spokeswoman from Allerdale council said: "Following three complaints that the council received from residents and councillors regarding rat sightings in Wigton, our environmental health team arranged a walk around with councillors, speaking to local people about the issue and advising residents to keep their properties tidy through letter drops.
"Any places for concern will also be forwarded to our street scene team who will clear up any untidy areas that will potentially attract rats.
"The council will continue to monitor the situation and will work closely with residents to resolve any issues."
Officers have issued a number of ways that rats can be kept at bay.
- Do not place food on the ground for birds. If you wish to feed garden birds at your property then there are a number of appropriate bird tables and feeders available
- Ensure all rubbish is contained within wheelie bins and ensure the lid shuts
- Do not throw food scraps into backyard compost
- Clean out waste and food from pet pens and enclosures
- Remove unused piles of wood or garden waste
- Build sheds on concrete slabs
- Remove outbuildings or sheds which are in poor conditions and could provide potential harbourage.