Iran battling its big rat problem with snipers

Mar 07, 2013, 01:24 IST | Agencies

The rats die hard in Iran. Sharpshooters in Tehran are training their air gun scopes on the country's longstanding rodent problem.

Rats are reportedly running rampant in 26 districts in the capital. Iran has the biggest beef with Norwegian rats, said Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, a top environmental official. He said the critters have “entered Iran from abroad by cargo ships.”

Representation Pic

Though it’s unclear if the rats come with paperwork, a search of shows that that particular kind of rat can grow 16 inches long. And they are very aggressive, “fighting, chasing, biting and boxing.”

Tehran city council environment adviser Ismail Kahram said that the rats “seem to have had a genetic mutation, probably as a result of radiations and the chemical used on them.”

“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,” Kahram said.

While Iranians have used poison to kill the rats during the daytime, at night the teams of sharpshooters use infrared lenses to hunt them down.

“We have identified the rats’ places of congregation by using(computer) software,” Heydarzadeh explained. By the end of 2013, the Iranians hope to have 40 teams of shooters working, he added.

So far, 2,205 rats have been killed. Their bodies are carted off and incinerated or buried in special dumps, the environmental official explained.

University researchers are working with the government to assess whether their newest plan of attack is working. But Heydarzadeh feels good.“The number of these rodents in Tehran,” he said, “is on the decline.”

2,205 The number of rats that have been killed so far

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