A city centre is being swarmed by “chubby rats” who have been stealing people’s bird food instead of poisoned bait.
Grim footage taken by a member of the public shows at least three of the pests near Leicester Town Hall.
One of them seems as big as a pigeon as it slurps water from a puddle.
The member of the public who filmed the disturbing video told LeicestershireLive he had seen 14 of the creatures in just 10 minutes.
“There were some really large vermin,” he said. “I have taken my children there a few times and seen them every day.
“It’s scary to think little kids are so near to them.”
Helen Wellsby, 29, works near Town Hall Square and has also come across the rats.
She called them “very brave” and said they have shown no fear towards other people.
“There are some pretty chubby ones who scurry out and steal the food people throw down for the pigeons when they have their lunch,” Helen added.
“There is no shortage of stuff for them to eat around here.
“It’s not very nice to see them going round like they own the place.”
Leicester City Council have urged people not to leave food for pigeons as it is preventing the rats from being lured into the numerous bait boxes that have been placed around the square.
A city council spokesperson said: “We’ve been setting bait down for rats since the end of last week in Town Hall Square, and have cleared debris which may be attracting them from behind the war memorial.
“There are bait boxes in various locations around the square, but these are only effective if other forms of food, such as food scraps left by people for the pigeons, is not available.
“Our cleansing teams clean Town Hall Square at least four to five times per day, and the litterbins are emptied at least twice per day – we increase both of these cleansing rotas in hot weather.”
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