Video: Plague of giant rats 'invades Bradford estate'

Pest control experts from a Yorkshire council have played down claims that giant rats are plaguing an estate in Bradford.

Bradford Council said it had found no evidence of their existence, following reports a 30-inch rodent – dubbed "Ratzilla" – was shot dead on the city's Ravenscliffe estate.

But residents in the area claimed to have seen rats as big as a loaf of bread and others they have mistaken for cats.

Tracey Tompkins, 36, said she saw two large rats walking across a road several weeks ago in the afternoon.

"They were both about the size of cats and were in no hurry to get across and went their separate ways," she said.

Her mother, Kath Tompkins, 60, added: "We were standing out on the street about three weeks ago at about 4pm and this rat came up from near the front of our house. It was about the size of a loaf of bread and wasn't moving very quickly."

Their claims followed reports that resident Brandon Goddard had killed a 30-inch rodent while "ratting" with friends on the edge of the estate.

Other locals said, however, that while they had seen rats in the area none were as big as the alleged monster rodent.

Bradford Council pest control manager Dennis Shipway said: "We have not received any reports of larger than normal rats or any increased rat activity in Ravenscliffe.

"We visited the area today and found no evidence of large rats. We would urge members of the public to call us to report any problems on 01274 433926 and we will investigate them."

Yorkshire Rat Club has also expressed scepticism about "Ratzilla".

Kathleen Arundel, of the club, said: "You do get things that are a bit odd but I would be surprised if a rat this large was found in the UK."

The report of the sighting has prompted fears that so-called "super rats" from South America could be at large and speculation the creature may in fact have been a coypu - a plant-eating semi-aquatic rodent originally native to South America..

The animal was introduced into England in the 1920s for fur farming but eradicated in 1989.

According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) there have been no confirmed sightings of coypus in the wild since the 1980s.

A spokesman said: "Natural England keep a record of all sightings of non-native species and there have been about 11 sightings of coypus in the last 10 years, all of which were found to be inconclusive."

Liberal Democrat councillor Carol Beardmore voiced scepticism about the suggestions the estate was swarming with hundreds of giant rodents.

"I live on the estate and while I'm not saying we don't have rats – everywhere has rats – I am not aware of an infestation of giant rats."

So far this year the council has received 992 reports of rats.

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