HORRIFIED neighbours told yesterday how their homes are being invaded by giant rats - including a 30-INCH LONG monster that was shot dead.
The rodents, twice the size of common types, are plaguing an estate in Bradford, West Yorks, often appearing in kitchens and lounges.
It is feared some could be "super rats" from South America.
Pictured above is a monster 2½ft rat killed on the estate.But the shaken man who shot it in the head - 31-year-old Brandon Goddard - yesterday revealed FOUR others of the same size scuttled away to safety.
And he said: "They were more like Ratzillas than rats.
"I got out of there as fast as I could. Who knows how many there will be if they've been breeding?"
The shot rat, feared to be from a species native to South America, is TWICE as big as common British types and the largest seen here.
The residents of Ravenscliffe estate in Bradford, West Yorks, are used to seeing massive rodents that sometimes appear in their kitchens and lounges.
Even so, the new colony shocked them. Shown a picture of the dead creature, mum-of-five Rebecca Holmes, 38, gasped: "Oh my God! I've seen them as big as cats but never that big."Brandon toted an air rifle as he went "ratting" with pals on the edge of the estate - which they had heard was rife with rodents.
The group heard "rustling and scrabbling" before the five huge rats shot out from behind a wall. Brandon, a manager at a cleaning firm, said: "The first went right past but we got the second one. Then three more got away.
"I've seen thousands of rats during the course of my work and go shooting a couple of times a week. But I've never seen any as big as this. The one I shot was absolutely terrifying. I was shaking. Goodness knows where the others went. I'm glad I don't live there."
After taking the photo, the ratters dumped the shot rodent in undergrowth. It is thought it was eaten by a fox.
The estate has long had a monster rat problem. Rebecca told how her cat Marie cornered one in her lounge. But it stood and fought as it was just as big as the moggy.
A neighbour clobbered it with a baseball bat.
And he and Marie took five dead rats to the local council's offices, tipping them over a desk to demand action.
Rebecca said: "They came quickly, blocked holes and put down poison. But people still see them outside regularly."
Neighbour Julie Briggs, 28, told how she and partner Andrew Denton, 24, hear rats fighting and squealing in the walls of their rented semi, which stands opposite open countryside.
Mum-of-six Julie said: "I find droppings on the cooker when they get into the house. I've seen them in the lounge as we watch TV.
"At night you can hear them chasing each other in the loft. They sound like drag racing cars as they screech across the rafters."
Last night experts called the shot rat "extraordinary" and said the colony was worth investigating.
Laura Drake, of the Mammal Society, speculated it could be a coypu - a South American rodent often referred to as a "giant rat".
Coypus were thought to have been eradicated in Britain in a cull 20 years ago. But Laura said it was "not impossible" there had been survivors.
Yorkshire Rat Club president Colin Arundel said rodents, like humans, could simply be getting bigger as food becomes more and more available.
The RSPCA said: "The most likely answer is the shot rat was from a non-indigenous species that was in captivity and got out."