Giant rat: Swedes agog at 'Ratzilla' in Stockholm

Rat caught in the home of the Korsas family in Stockholm, Sweden

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The appearance of a massive rat in a Stockholm family's kitchen has made headlines in Sweden, where it is being dubbed "Ratzilla".

Measuring 40cm (nearly 16in) plus tail, the creature terrified the family in Solna district.

Pest controllers finally killed the intruder using an oversized trap.

Even the family cat had refused to enter the kitchen while the giant rat was in residence, father Erik Korsas told BBC News.

It appears that it reached the kitchen via a ventilation pipe, having gnawed its way through cement and wood.

After devouring food leftovers under the sink, the creature feasted on a "Swedish smorgasbord" of waste in the bin, according to Mr Korsas.

The women of the house - mother Signe and daughters Dana and Erica, 17 and 15 respectively - took fright but his sons, 13-year-old Justus and six-year-old Laurentius, eventually proved themselves as genuine rat-hunters, he said.

It was the boys who investigated after the trap was sprung and the injured animal crawled away. It was they who brought him tools to help establish that it was well and truly dead.

Justus wielded the iPad which captured his father posing with the dead intruder.

'Mega rat'

The incident occurred three weeks ago and initially, after taking a few souvenir photos, the family thought no more about it.

But when they contacted Sweden's Home And Rent website to see if it was interested in the story, it rapidly scurried to the top of the country's news agenda, attracting the attention of reporters at newspapers including the English-language The Local.

Rat caught in the home of the Korsas family in Stockholm, Sweden The rat was removed by exterminators after its death
Erik Korsas with his daughter Erica and wife Signe Erik Korsas (left) was concerned for his daughters Erica (seen here) and Dana, and his wife Signe
Laurentius, six (left), and Justus, 13 But Mr Korsas took pride in his boys, Laurentius (left) and Justus, when it came to checking whether the rat was truly dead
Enok the cat Enok the cat has always been better at catching flies, Mr Korsas says

On Tuesday, the "mega rat" became the most shared item for popular Swedish daily Aftonbladet, according to a tweet by journalist Sven Nordenstam.

Social media rang with gasps of disbelief, disgust and amusement. "Can't even read the news because there's a story about a giant rat on it," wrote one person. "I'd be moving on out of there," wrote another.

Laughing incredulously, Mr Korsas told the BBC that one reporter had said he should have frozen the rat's carcass for posterity.

He was dismayed at suggestions he had photo-shopped the whole thing. Not a penny, he stressed, was paid for any of the photos.

"What surprised me is people say they cannot even read the articles and cannot go to sleep because of this story," he told the BBC.

"The human race and rats have had a long relationship. We have gone hand in hand, both as enemies and friends."

Fly-catcher

Since the incident, the kitchen has been repaired and the family and its cat, Enok, have not been bothered by rats of any size. Nonetheless the family is "just waiting for the next rat to come home to us", Mr Korsas said.

The Stockholm rat weighed about a kilo (2.2lb), Mr Korsas believes. Despite regular media speculation, there appears to be little evidence of rats getting bigger in developed countries.

However, scientists do believe they could eventually grow into the size of sheep, Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, of the University of Leicester in the UK, recently told the BBC.

That said, any significant change would be a long way off.

Erik Korsas later spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live's Shelagh Fogarty about his family's experiences.

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