Rat catcher finds rodent 'larger than a dog' as he warns 'they're getting bigger'

Pest controller Kieran Sampler claims he once caught a rodent that measured longer than a Yorkshire terrier
-Credit: (Image: Kieran Sampler / SWNS)

A rat catcher who has grappled with a staggering 50,000 rodents including one as large as a dog has issued a stark warning that they are "getting bigger and bolder".

Kieran Sampler, a former Lance Bombardier aged 29, recounted capturing a rat measuring an astonishing 22 inches from head to tail - twice the body length of a typical chihuahua. He noted that most rats he encounters now measure around 18 inches.

The father warns that the rodent population is becoming increasingly audacious, saying: "Rats are getting bigger, bolder and more brazen. They're less bothered about humans, cats, or anything."

He attributes this change in behaviour to an increase in food waste on the streets and a reduction in pest control services during the pandemic.

With seven years of experience observing these creatures, Kieran has found that rats can be quite cunning. He shared insights into their intelligence, noting how some rats alter their routines, such as rising early to secure prime feeding spots, which makes them highly unpredictable.

Kieran explained: "Rats are used to detect mines in Cambodia, they're very smart animals. Say you've got two Easter eggs, one is Cadbury's and the other is Lindt. They'll go for the Lindt. Honestly! You'd have to see it to believe it."

He also recounted his experiences with a particularly sly rat that repeatedly gnawed at the same abandoned car to wear down its teeth, even after the vehicle was moved several hundred metres away, YorkshireLive reports.

The father has trained his two terriers, Poppy and Penny, to hunt rodents, and since 2018, he has been clearing homes and farms of rats. Kieran operates 'Vermicure Pest Control' and established the Facebook group 'Yorkshire Rat Pack,' which is a network of pest controllers in the region who share work and support one another.

He recounted the largest infestation he encountered was at a property with 22 rats. The three-bedroom house was so overrun that rats scurried over his feet upon entry.

He also mentioned an incident where a woman had removed her toilet without sealing the pipe, allowing rats to travel from the sewer into her home.

However, the most severe case he faced was when a new farmer reached out to him. The farm had been neglected by its previous owners, leaving copious amounts of corn to decay.

"There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rats! Maybe thousands," Kieran recalled. After initially clearing the area, they returned weeks later with their terriers and caught around 250 rats, as many had dispersed by then.

Kieran emphasised: "When you become a pest controller, it's completely different to hunting. You've got to respect the animals. With rats, they're very intelligent things. There's a big difference between killing stuff and controlling stuff."

But his efforts have led to him receiving death threats and vile abuse aimed at both himself and his young daughter. "Do I want to kill every rat in the world? No! That's not my job. The aim is just to reduce the population so it's manageable. If they're in fields or something like that, I'm not bothered. Everything has got to live. A lot of times, in farms and houses, you just have to reduce the food source. You don't have to kill them."

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