‘I saw a rat as long as my forearm’ – Hitchin woman’s fears over infestation near store

Rats, like this one pictured, have been spotted in Nightingale Road, Hitchin.

Rats, like this one pictured, have been spotted in Nightingale Road, Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

A woman who popped to the shops in Hitchin was startled to find ‘at least’ 30 rats scurrying outside a discount store in the town.

Abby Ellis.

Abby Ellis. - Credit: Archant

Abby Ellis was walking along Nightingale Road on Monday when she disturbed the pests near the Family Bargains store opposite Hitchin railway station.

“I’d popped out to get a bit of shopping when I was shocked to see at least 30 rats outside the yard,” said the 30-year-old who lives nearby in Cambridge Road.

“It was horrendous. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I contacted Family Bargains but they seemed very blasé about it. I witnessed the rats eating debris off a board in the yard – there is clearly something supplying the rats with a food source.

“It was really disgusting. I was so shocked I even went back to film them with my phone.

“They were running around the bushes and in between rubbish – they were everywhere.

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“When I stopped filming because I couldn’t stand it any more, I actually saw one as long as my forearm from nose to tail. They are not small rats, they are really big.

“Something has to be done before they move to other parts of the town.

“It makes my skin crawl to think of how many there are in that hedge alone. How many people walk past them on their way to the station?”

Family Bargains spokesman Wendy Pearson said: “We have made our pest control team aware.

“This is not in our store but on the land at the back of our store, which is not our property.

“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure we are no affected by this matter.”

Andy Godman, who is head of housing and public protection at North Herts District Council, said: “The council’s environmental health team was made aware of the rat problem at the Family Bargains site in Hitchin by local residents.

“The council has a statutory duty to investigate this matter and to take steps to ensure that owners and occupiers of land comply with their responsibilities under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 – which means dealing with the substantial numbers of rats living on their land.

“Family Bargains is also taking steps to deal with the issue.”