RESIDENTS in a pretty seaside town say it’s infested with “super-rats” the size of cats – and that no one can stop them.
The resort of Tenby in South Wales offers a sandy beach, a pretty harbour and scenic cliff views which attracts thousands of tourists each year.
But locals say the tourist trade could be sabotaged due to a new breed of visitor – “super-rats”.
They say their town has been invaded by an army of rodents “as big as cats” – with fears their ability to breed prolifically will soon lead to the seaside town being overrun.
The giant rats have made their home on a huge hill overlooking Tenby’s famous golden sands.
Local boatman Roger Miles said the rodents have become a worsening problem in recent weeks, adding it is now "really concerning".
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He told The Sun: "Early evenings, dusk, early morning, rats all over the place really.
"There's a certain area where you see parts of the cliffs at Castle Hill have been eroded.”
The rodents, he claims, are “as big as cats sometimes”.
He urges the Pembrokeshire council to take drastic action, adding: "It's been going on for a long time, it's been left alone and something needs to be done about it."
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Another local said: “You just can’t kill them quicker than they can breed.
“Once they’re here, they’re here to stay. Besides, they’re intelligent animals so they’ll soon work out the bait is no good for them.
“We’re living in terror of the bloody things.”
Resident Derek Brown added: "It's the structural damage they might be doing to the cliff face that is the big problem.”
A female rat typically has six litters a year of up to 12 rat “pups”. They reach sexual maturity after four to five weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in a year, with the potential to grow exponentially.
Local mayor Sam Skyrme-Blackhall, an all-year swimmer in the sea beneath Castle Hill, where the rats have made their home, admitted she regularly spots the giant rodents sauntering across the sand when she emerges from the water.
The civic official, who also represents her home town as a Pembrokeshire county councillor, has been instrumental in addressing the infestation by helping organise dozens of large bait boxes containing poison, which have been placed around Castle Hill.
Fisherman Michael Lewis said Tenby has had a rat issue for years, but they’ve become “famous” since they appeared on Facebook.
"Rats are a nuisance but now people are aware of them, some are scared stiff and others think they're cute and cuddly,” he said.
"Truth is they breed like mad and they are unhygienic if they get into houses and the garbage from the restaurants and cafes.
"But you know how the saying goes – you're never far away from a rat, and Tenby is no exception."
Poet Clive Dobbins, from Tenby, found a rat in the lounge of his High Street flat two months ago.
"Suddenly this thing dashed and hit my leg," he said. “Quite a few people have told me, especially on this mountain here, they've seen clusters of them."
Tenby’s sandy bay attracts thousands of holiday-makers during the summer months and is famous for hosting the Wales Ironman triathlon event every September.
The annual endurance race, which gives the town a £5m economic windfall, starts on the beach with a 2.4-mile sea swim.
Reports of the massive rats, some of which are more than a foot long, scuttling around on the beach could well deter entrants.
But Ms Skyrme-Blackhall, who walks her dog on the beach every day, said people have no reason to be afraid of the rats.
“I see them all the time,” she said. “They’re just rats, though, they don’t worry me… rats are everywhere. It’s the same in every town.”
Lee Ashworth, 55, and his partner Michelle Lamb, 51, from Worcs, have visited Tenby for years and were spending the weekend looking for their “forever home”.
"A few rats aren't going to put us off,” said Mr Ashworth. "We didn't know the problem was as bad as it is until we got here.
"We've looked along the cliffs here by the lifeboat but we haven't seen any yet, except for the bait boxes.
"In fact we haven't seen any cats, let alone rats.
"It would put me off if we come here to live permanently, but we don't intend moving for another 18 months, so hopefully they will have fixed the problem by then."
Ken Long, 62, who volunteers for the RNLI in Tenby, said he sees the rats “everywhere” along the cliffs, but reckons the problem has been “overstressed”.
"To be honest I think it’s the refuse bins at the bottom of the hill leading down to the harbour that are attracting them,” he said.
"If there's food left around in the bins, that's only going to encourage rats isn't it? No wonder they get so big.
"I walk the cliff path regularly and see plenty of rats, but I think the seagulls present a bigger problem. They are all vermin."
Pembrokeshire Council has urged people not to feed birds or drop food, and said specialist staff are examining the cliffs where the rats are thought to be nesting.
A spokesperson told The Sun: “We are aware of issues with rodents and the need for additional baiting points and have been working on this on an ongoing basis in order to address this concern.
“We will be accessing the cliff face and starting a baiting programme imminently, using specialist staff.
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“We continue to urge members of the public and the local community not to feed the birds or provide any food sources that may attract vermin to this area as this is the likely cause of the problem. We will also look to provide additional signage to reinforce this message.
“Following the planned baiting programme we will look at what options we have available to prevent the re-emergence of this issue in the future.”
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