Horrified U.K. residents claim their homes are being invaded by giant rats -- including a 30-inch long monster that was shot dead.
The rodents, twice the size of common types, are plaguing an estate in West Yorks in the Northern U.K., often appearing in kitchens and lounges. Some fear they could be "super rats" from South America.
But the shaken man who shot it in the head -- 31-year-old Brandon Goddard -- yesterday revealed four others of the same size scuttled away to safety.
"They were more like Ratzillas than rats," Goddard said. "I got out of there as fast as I could. Who knows how many there will be if they've been breeding?"
The shot rat, feared to be from a species native to South America, is twice as big as common British types and the largest seen there. The residents of Ravenscliffe estate where the rat was found are used to seeing massive rodents that sometimes appear in their kitchens and lounges.
Even so, the new colony shocked them. Shown a picture of the dead creature, mother-of-five Rebecca Holmes, 38, gasped: "Oh my God! I've seen them as big as cats but never that big."
Brandon toted an air rifle as he went "ratting" with pals on the edge of the estate -- which they had heard was rife with rodents.
The group heard "rustling and scrabbling" before the five huge rats shot out from behind a wall. Brandon, a manager at a cleaning firm, said: "The first went right past but we got the second one. Then three more got away.
"I've seen thousands of rats during the course of my work and go shooting a couple of times a week. But I've never seen any as big as this. The one I shot was absolutely terrifying. I was shaking. Goodness knows where the others went. I'm glad I don't live there."
After taking the photo, the ratters dumped the shot rodent in undergrowth. It is thought it was eaten by a fox.
Experts called the shot rat "extraordinary" and said the colony was worth investigating. Laura Drake, of the Mammal Society, speculated that it could be a coypu -- a South American rodent often referred to as a "giant rat."
Coypus were thought to have been eradicated in Britain 20 years ago. But Drake said it was "not impossible" that there had been survivors. Yorkshire Rat Club president Colin Arundel said rodents, like humans, could simply be getting bigger as food becomes more and more available.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had a simpler explanation: "The most likely answer is the shot rat was from a non-indigenous species that was in captivity and got out."
For more on this story, see The Sun.