A club is holding a Crufts-style contest for rats at a Derbyshire village.

According to Lisa Harries from the Midlands Rat Club, specimens from across the UK had been entered into the contest at a village hall in Willington. She said the rats were judged on a number of categories including appearance, colour and friendliness to find various winners. "The show is basically a miniature Crufts," the BBC quoted Harries as saying.

"The rats are judged on what they look like, friendliness, their colours and markings because there are hundreds of different varieties. "The judges place them in positions accordingly, the main award is the best in show winner. "The National Pet Society sets out guidelines to follow, to choose the best variety, which is like a dog breed," she said.

Harries added that the rats, which are kept in specially sized tanks during the show, do not deserve their dirty reputation. "They spend most of their time washing and grooming their coats... they're very clean animals.

"They're also very intelligent, a lot of people think they're wild, disgusting and carry diseases, but they're actually miniature cats and dogs," she added