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Reports: Snipers Deployed To Kill Tehran's Cat-Sized Rats

Rats have been a problem for many years in Tehran. As the BBC reported in 2000, officials back then launched a poison control program that they hoped would kill many of the estimated 25 million rats in the city.

Well, now there are reports that the poison isn't working that well and that the rat population still outnumbers the Iranian capital's humans. So, as The Times of London and Abu Dhabi's The National report, sniper squads have been deployed.

The National says:

"Ten teams of sharpshooters armed with rifles equipped with infra-red sights have bagged more than 2,000 of the brutish rodents in recent weeks, city officials told state media. That's a drop in the ocean: Iran's rat population easily outnumbers the sprawling capital's 12 million inhabitants. The city council is now boosting the number of sniper squads to 40, officials said.

" 'It's become a 24/7 war,' a grim-faced Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, the head of Tehran municipality's environmental agency, declared on state television last month."

Some of the rats, according to news reports, weigh about 11 pounds. That's more than many of Tehran's cats. The problem grows worse in Tehran as winter turns to spring, snows melt in the mountains and the city's water table rises — pushing the rats into close contact with humans.

Rats do not respect international boundaries, of course. Gawker last month looked at reports of a post-Superstorm Sandy rat invasion in New York City and concluded it was still too soon to tell if it's happened. The New York Times, though, thinks the city's rats have "come inland, in droves."

H/T to Shots host Scott Hensley.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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