Some people are afraid of rats, and others are relatively nonplussed. Regardless, surely everyone would balk at the sight of a 1.2 meter-long (4-foot) rodent, the unpleasant spectacle that greeted Londoners this week after it was found lying dead near a kids’ play area on a housing estate.
According to the Evening Standard, it was first found by gas engineer Tony Smith who was working at a block of flats in Hackney Downs at the time. He remarked that it “is the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my life,” which is entirely unsurprising. The brown rat, Rattus norvegicus, is commonly found in British sewer systems, and only reaches a length of 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) and a maximum weight of 500 grams (1.1 pounds).
This relatively ginormous critter is three times longer, and weighs upwards of 11 kilograms (25 pounds). It’s been compared to the length of a small child, or even a Jack Russell and a domestic cat put together. It’s also roughly a quarter of the size of a fully-grown adult male great white shark, to give another surreal point of comparison.
We're going to need a bigger clamp. SWNS
The species of this behemoth has yet to be identified, but in the meantime, the denizens of the Internet have begun piling on their skepticism. Oliver O'Brien, a data scientist at University College London, has decided that the rat only looks so huge because of how the photograph has been taken. In reality, the deceased rodent may only be 0.6 meters (2 feet) in length.
The “giant rat” is two foot rather than the “four foot” claimed in the press. Perspective trick. Here’s my working: pic.twitter.com/DYGE3hPDSz
— Oliver O'Brien (@oobr) 11 March 2016
The Guardian backs up this hypothesis, concluding that the rat's apparent enormity is merely an illusion of forced perspective. Finally, Hackney Council declared that “it's probably not that big,” before adding that their pest control team was double-checking the area just in case.
— Hackney Council (@hackneycouncil) March 11, 2016