Rat bigger than a dog is found as rodent catcher warns they’re getting bigger

By Staff

Pest controller Kieran Sampler from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has caught thousands of rats in his work – but vividly remembers one in particular that measured longer than a Yorkshire terrier

A rat catcher who has dealt with 50,000 rodents – including one the size of a dog – warns they’re “getting bigger and bolder”.

Ex-Lance Bombardier Kieran Sampler, 29, says the biggest rat he’s ever caught was 22 inches head-to-tail – double the size of a chihuahua’s body length. And he says most rats he catches are a whopping 18 inches in length.

The dad from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, warns: “Rats are getting bigger, bolder and more brazen. They’re less bothered about humans, cats, or anything.” He says more food waste on the streets and less pest control during the pandemic has emboldened the rats.

Kieran said rats can be devious, after studying their behaviour for seven years. He told how clever rats will adapt their behaviour, like waking up early in the day to find a good food source, making them very unpredictable. ‌Kieran said: “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.”

Kieran spoke about a particularly crafty rat which kept targeting the same disused car to file down its teeth – despite it being moved hundreds of metres each time.

The dad has trained up his two dogs, terriers Poppy and Penny, to catch the rodents and since 2018 he has been ridding homes and farms of rats. ‌Kieran runs ‘Vermicure Pest Control’ and set up the Facebook page ‘Yorkshire Rat Pack,’ a collective of pest controllers across the county, who share jobs and help each other out.

He says the biggest infestation he’s discovered was in a house plagued by 22 rats. It was a three-bedroom house in Batley and they ran across his feet when he entered. He spoke about another job when a woman had removed her toilet but hadn’t capped the hole off and rats were going back and forth from the sewer into the house, freely.

‌But the biggest infestation he came across was after a new farmer in Hull contacted him. He’d taken over a farm where a lot of corn had been left to rot by the previous owners. “There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of rats! Maybe thousands,” Kieran says. After cleaning the area, they returned with their terriers a couple of weeks later and caught about 250 rats, as most of the population had moved away by that time.

‌Kieran said: “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 as a result of his work he’s had death threats and abuse targeting him and his four-year-old 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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