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The dead rat they just found in Hackney was probably not the size of a small child

Here’s a picture of gas engineer Tony Smith holding a giant rat which he found in an east London housing estate.

Under the definitely-not-hysterical headline “Giant rat ‘the size of a small child’ found near Hackney playground”, The Evening Standard reported the news as follows:

Pest controllers found a rat the size of a small child yards from a kids’ play area on a housing estate in east London.

Gas engineer Tony Smith, 46, spotted the four foot long rat while working at a block of flats Hackney Downs.

The giant rat, which weighed almost two stone, was spotted lying in a bush next to a popular children’s playground.

The rodent, which was found dead, was discovered near to the play area which backs onto a railway track on Thursday.

It’s a big rat. There’s no denying that it’s a big rat.

But it’s perhaps not quite as big as it first appears. Look at that picture again – specifically, at the way the rat is in the foreground, quite a long way in front of Tony.

Now look at this rather brilliant tweet from HackneyCouncil, showing one of its staff holding a small stuffed monkey.

It’s all, it seems, a matter of perspective.

Was the rat really four feet long? Was it really the size of a child?


Well far be it from us to doubt the word of Tony Smith, who got a lot closer to the thing than we’re planning to. But we suspect the only way you can get close to four feet is by including the tail, and even then four feet is pushing it.

This rat is, at worst, the size of a baby.

The rat in the picture at the top of this story, by the way, is Cambodian. It’s searching for landmines on behalf of the Cambodian Mine Action Center. What a nice rat.

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