Giant Rat Found in London Goes Viral, Probably Someone’s Pet

Scientist says it looks like a Gambian pouched rat
March 11, 2016 Updated: March 11, 2016

Photos of what appears to be a giant rat are making the rounds online, horrifying hundreds of thousands people.

Tony Smith, 46, an engineer, spotted the rat while he was working near a block of apartments in London. The giant rodent, he said, was found near a playground for children.

Smith said it weighed more than 25 pounds and was four feet in length.

When he found it in a bush near the playground, the rat had been dead for some time. The playground is located near a railway track in Hackney Downs, north London, reported the Evening Standard.

Smith took a photo of the rat being held by his friend, James Green.

This is the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
— James Green, London resident

“This is the largest rat I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he said. “I’ve got a cat and a Jack Russell and it was bigger than both of those put together. I’d say it was about four foot.”

However, some users on Twitter said the rat was only about two feet in length. Others said the rat was being held close to the camera, which made it seem bigger than it really is.

Moreover, some said that it wasn’t a rat at all but possibly a different species of animal altogether—possibly even someone’s pet. And even more claimed that the rat was a hoax, pointing to a story of a giant rat found in London in October 2015 that turned out to be false. The rat was actually found in the German city of Duisberg, not in the U.K. 

Just caught on the London Underground near wapping, enjoy your train journey people

Posted by Rod Ward on Monday, October 19, 2015

Smith added: “We were going to stick it in the bin, but before we did we thought we better take a picture [otherwise] people won’t believe it’s real.”

Professor Jane Hurst, a specialist at Liverpool University, told ITV that it’s probably a Gambian pouched rat.

“They’re increasingly being kept as pets because they tame quite nicely,” she said. “It’s extremely unlikely this was not someone’s pet,” she added.

(FWS and Wildlife Services)
A Gambian pouched rat found in Florida (FWS and Wildlife Services)

Guinness World Records doesn’t have a record for the world’s longest rat.

The largest species of rat, however, is the slender-tailed cloud rat found on Luzon in the Philippines.

(Jaroslav Vogeltanz via Creative Commons)
(Jaroslav Vogeltanz via Creative Commons)

The tree-climbing rodent can get to be as large as 3.3 feet in length.