By Bill Heaney

A “large increase” in rats leaving the sewers and infesting local streets and gardens has emerged during the coronavirus pandemic.

But West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration will neither confirm or deny the sightings by members of the public.

Nor will they comment on whether pest control staff have been laid off work during the lockdown.

Other places have confirmed sightings of rats “big enough to put a saddle on”, eating through brickwork and circumventing traps to infest homes, gardens and even cars.

Recent warm weather, fewer people on the streets and increased illegal dumping had encouraged more rats into the open.

“They are nesting in broken drains and seem to be becoming more aggressive in their search for food. They’re also getting into cars and ruining the engines,” one source said.

“I understand resources are scarce at the moment, but not dealing with this is creating another health emergency.”

Reduced activity during Covid-19 restrictions “seems to have given them a better chance to breed”, one woman said.

She added: “I’ve never seen illegal dumping as bad, and that is definitely leading to an increase in rats.”

Controlling the rat population was becoming increasingly problematic because of stricter regulation of poisons.

One problem for pest control officerS would have been the restriction on entering people’s houses during the lockdown.

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