Tehran, the capital of Iran, is battling an invasion of "genetically mutated" giant rats. Sniper teams have now been sent in to clear the streets of the massive rodents weighting up to five kilos, the city's environmental agency said.
"They seem to have had a genetic mutation, probably as a result of radiation and chemicals used on them," Ismail Kahram, Tehran city council environment adviser and university professor said. "They are now bigger and look different. These are changes that normally take millions of years of evolution. They have jumped from 60 grams to five kilos, and cats are now smaller than them."
The "mutated rats" have been running rampant in the capital, as cats are scared off by their giant size and traditional poisons appear to have no effect on them. To stop them storming restaurants' backyards and scavenging public waste containers, the council has deployed ten sniper teams armed with infra-red sighted rifles.
"We use chemical poisons to kill the rats during the day and the snipers at night, so it has become a 24/7 war," the head of the environment agency, Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, said. The rats' carcasses are burnt or buried in lime. So far 2,205 rats have been shot dead, but the war is far from won and the council is planning to increase the number of sniper teams up to 40.