Comes a story out of Tehran, Iran, a story of mutant giant rats, that one would most likely put in the annals of fear-mongering and conspiracy theory nonsense, but it is coming through news channels such as NPR and Abu Dhabi's The National. Apparently the capital of Iran has a rat problem, a giant one at that. And there are reports that sniper teams have been deployed to combat the rodent scourge where some of the little beasts have grown larger than cats.
NPR reported on March 4 that poison used to attempt to control the rats in Tehran's decades-old struggle with its rodent population seems to have been ineffective. The National reported the same day that Tehran city officials have upped the number of sniper squads to deal with problem.
"It's become a 24/7 war," Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, the head of Tehran municipality's environmental agency, stated on Iran's state television last month, according to The National. "We use chemical poisons to kill the rats during the day and the snipers at night."
Officials say they kill about a million rats each year, spending in the millions to exterminate them. But it isn't enough.
An environmental adviser to the Tehran city council, Ismail Kahram, told Qudsonline.ir last month that: "They seem to have had a genetic mutation. They are bigger now and look different. These are changes that normally take millions of years of evolution."
He also noted that some have grown as big as 5 kilograms and are bigger than local cats.
Huffington Post reached out to LSU laboratory animal veterinarian Dr. David Baker for corroboration of Kahram's claims. Baker was doubtful that the rats were mutants, noting that genetic mutation is generally disadvantageous and only benefits species in sic-fi movies. He did, however, admit that there were several species of giant rats around the world and even common black rats have been known to grow exceeding large.
Abnormally large does not a mutant rat make, it would seem. And so we find the stories out of Iran happen to be true and not the work of some "Axis of Evil" fear-mongerer that simply wishes to extoll the horrors of Iran's emerging nuclear energy program.
And its not part of some convoluted conspiracy theory, at least not according to Snopes.com, a website dedicated to skepticism and tracking down urban legends and modern day myths.
Unfortunately for the people of Tehran, snipers have only accounted for a couple thousand rats thus far. Estimates place the number of rats in the urban area at six times the human population. That would be a horde of rats, considering there are 12 million people living in the Iranian capital.
Wonder just how many of those 72 million rats are giants...