File photo: Venezuelan prisoners are eating rats to avoid starving to death. Getty Images

Prisoners in a Venezuelan prison have taken to a diet of rats and rodents to avoid starving to death.

According to El Nuevo Herald, living conditions at the Vista Hermosa prison in Bolivar - a Venezuela state - are so poor, some inmates are falling sick from eating raw rat meat. 41-year-old Alejandro Manuel Mago Coraspe was taken to hospital last week after eating dead rats he found in the rubbish.

"We cooked them, but they were still raw," Mago told NGO Window to Liberty. "We at them anyway. I think they were poisonous and that's why I fell ill. I normally kill them myself."

He revealed to the non-government organisation that he regularly eats rodents out of "need and hunger". Mago is serving eight months in the prison after attempting to steal a car. Doctors said he is suffering from malnutrition and inflammation in his legs.

He underwent surgery to remove an obstruction from his intenstines at the Ruiz y Paez Hospital in Ciudad Bolivar. The bones and cartilage of the rats had "obstructed his intestines".

Mago's family has in the past brought him food to survive on however they live five hours away by car and cannot visit regularly.

In May last year, a Venezuelan NGO accused the Venezuelan government of feeding inmates raw pasta with feces. Reported by Breitbart.com, "at least 15 prisoners said they were forced to eat raw pasta with human excrement (the agents had applied power used to make tear gas on their noses, forcing them to open their mouths to ingest".