A family have been forced to flee their home after catching 19 rats in 24 hours.

Michael and Paula McCann and their two young children returned from holiday to find their terraced house in Belfast taken over by rodents.

The new residents had left faeces all over the floors of the property and eaten through the wires of electrical appliances.

I caught eight rats in the first 12 hours of having the traps down, then another four, and over 24 hours I'd caught a total of 19. They were big, grey rats. The look of them was disgusting and to think they were in our home near our children, it was awful. >

Michael McCann

The couple believe the rats were able to overrun the house because they had put their cat, 'Lady', in a cattery while they were on holiday.

Mrs McCann said: "We now think 'Lady' must have been keeping the rat problem under control to a degree but the moment she went into the cattery, the rats struck.

"It's hard to believe that in 2016 housing in Belfast could be infested by rats.

"Whatever has done it, we've been made homeless by a plague of rats. All we can do now is wait for the Housing Executive to help us find a new home and thankfully they seem to understand."

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which owns the property, is currently looking for alternative accommodation for them.

A Housing Executive spokesman said: "We are aware of the issues at this property and are working closely with the family.

"We first received a report of rats in the dwelling two weeks ago when an environmental health team was engaged and we carried out repairs to the property based on their report.

"We received another inspection report yesterday and more work will be carried out by the Housing Executive on the property immediately."