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Nature unraveling: Giant rat plagues being reported across the globe

June 10, 2011AUSTRALIA – Over-sized rats are taking up residence southwest of Brisbane at Goodna, as residents slowly move back into their flood-affected homes. The Courier-Mail website was overwhelmed with comments from readers complaining of large rats creating havoc in homes from Caboolture and Narangba to the inner-city today. Residents at Bellbowrie, Indooroopilly, Yeronga and Hendra also reported the number of rodents were on the increase. Ipswich City Council plans to unleash a force of fox terriers and pest control council workers to stop the pests next week. Goodna residents have complained rats “the size of possums” were nesting in their homes because of the cooler weather. The situation is believed to be worse because many flood-affected homes are unoccupied. Australian pest control service 1300 Pest Control CEO Paul Byres said the rats posed a real threat to homes in the area. “They chew through power cords, plastic, electrical wiring and can potentially start house fires,” Mr. Byres said. “They carry all sorts of disease, from a health point of view – any sort of fecal or urine traces they leave on surfaces – the bacteria spreads very easily and can cause sickness.” He said residents from surrounding areas, like Willawong northeast of Goodna, were shocked at how bold the rats were. “People are intimidated by them, some get pretty comfortable if there’s enough of them around. “One woman rang and said there was one on her front step, it just sat there looking at her. “If you’ve got things like chickens, dry dog food they’ll come to your home.” Goodna Councillor Paul Tully said rats had become a real problem as residents returned to their homes after the floods. “A lot of absentee landlords have done nothing to clean up their properties – you’ve got long grass and other mess they’re attracted to,” Cr Tully said. –Courier Mail
SOUTH AFRICAGraphic descriptions – Giant rats as big as cats have killed and eaten two babies in separate attacks in South Africa’s squalid townships this week. Lunathi Dwadwa, three, was killed as she slept in her parent’s shack in the Khayelitsha slum outside Cape Town and another girl was killed in Soweto township near Johannesburg the same day. Little Lunathi was sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor of her family’s breeze block and corrugated iron home on Sunday night when she died. Her puzzled parents didn’t even hear her scream. When her mother discovered her lifeless body, she saw that her daughter’s eyes had been gouged out. Bukiswa Dwadwa, 27, said: ‘I can’t forget how ugly my child looked after her eyes were ripped out. ‘She was eaten from her eyebrows to her cheeks, her other eye was hanging by a piece of flesh.’ Her father Mncedisi Mokoena said police told him: ‘Nothing could have done that but rats.’ And today police revealed that a baby girl died in the Soweto township when she was attacked by rats while her teenage mother was out with friends. ‘We were called to the scene of the death of an infant due to a rat attack on Monday morning at around 9am,’ said police officer Bongani Mhlongo. ‘The mother of the child was arrested on charges of culpable homicide and negligence.’ Residents of South Africa’s impoverished townships say the giant rats grow up to three-foot long, including their tails, and have front teeth over an inch long. The suspects in the baby attacks are believed to be African Giant Pouched Rats, a species only distantly related to UK rats, but native to sub-Saharan Africa – and the biggest in the world. They are nocturnal, omnivorous and can produce up to 50 young a year. Some tribal people breed them for food. –Mail UK

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