1. ITV Report

Rat 'as big as a four-year-old boy' found in London

Electrician James Green with the giant rat Credit: SWNS

Workers have found what they believe to be a giant rat "bigger than a four-year-old boy" in London.

Engineers came across the dead "mutant rodent" near a children's playground, while they were working at a block of flats near Hackney Downs, north London on Thursday.

Gas engineer Tony Smith, 46, who spotted the rodent in a bush, said: "This is the largest rat I've ever seen in my entire life.

The creature was said to be an astonishing four feet long.

Electrician James Green is pictured proudly holding the 25lb "mutant" rodent:

Electrician James Green with the giant rat Credit: SWNS

We were going to stick it in the bin, but before we did we thought we better take a picture of people won't believe it's real.

– Tony Smith, who found the rat

Smith said that the estate where he was working has an infestation of rats, so poison is left around to catch the creatures.

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."

A good tail: Electrician James Green with the giant rat Credit: SWNS
  • Expert's view

Professor Jane Hurst, who specialises in mammalian behaviour and evolution at Liverpool University, has told ITV News that while there's a chance a deceptive camera angle has made the creature appear larger, it is most likely a Gambian pouched rat that was someone's pet.

"They're increasingly being kept as pets because they tame quite nicely," she said. "It's extremely unlikely this was not someone's pet."

It's mostly likely a Gambian pouched rat because it has a very large head.

– Professor Jane Hurst

The species have extremely sensitive noses and are used in Gambia to sniff out mines and in the UK in laboratories to sniff out tuberculosis.