Aggressive "cannibal" rats are making their way into households as they search for food during the coronavirus lockdown.
Residents in Stoke-On-Trent say hungry rodents have been swimming up drains and into people's toilets, as they adapt their behaviour during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Local pest controllers say they have seen a 10% rise in reported indoor sightings of rats, in areas of the city including Fenton, Burslem, Smallthorne and Tunstall.
Rentokil has noted an almost 80% increase in visits to its website compared with this time last year.
The company believes the warm winter kept rat populations high, adding to the pressure on the animals which partly explains why they have started eating each other.
Mike Flynn, of Alpha Pest Control, also said rats have adapted their behaviour to survive as they scrabble for food while restaurants remain shut.
The rodents have even turned to eating each other to stay alive as they forage and breed in gardens, drains and household voids.
Flynn, who has worked in pest control since 1979, said: "There has definitely been a change in behaviour with the rats over lockdown.
“Previously people would throw there takeaway cartons on the road or in car parks but now people are at home more.
"There's also been a rise in cannibalistic rats. I had caught one in a trap the other day and when we went back to it was just the bare bones. Another rat had feasted on it.
"We know they are more opportunistic and braver at the moment which is explains why we are seeing them more in the day."
Resident Robert Stewart, 68 believes the rats have been attracted by fly-tipping dumped in alleyways during lockdown.
The retired vehicle builder has been calling Stoke-on-Trent City Council every week to try to get rubbish removed on private land behind properties on Cope's Avenue in Tunstall.
Stewart said: "There's a big problem with rats, some people have even had them in their yard. It's the fly-tipping that attracts the vermin.
“You get morons who don't give a damn who just sling their rubbish into an alley and then foxes rip the bags open. It's not what you want.
"The council picked up three rats the other day but they wouldn't take the mess as they say it's on private land. All the residents came out to complain but they kept moaning that they didn't have the time and they're short-staffed due to the pandemic. They're just full of excuses.
"They were there half an hour and it would have only taken them a few minute's to clear up. I'm fuming about it. We've had to take matters into our own hands and put up fliers warning people they will be prosecuted for fly-tipping."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been approached for comment.
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