It's probably the worst thing that come happen to you when you are asleep at night – a rat gnawing at your head. But that's exactly what happened to poor pensioner Dario Dicarlo as he slept in his bed at his Gateshead home in Tyne and Wear.

The pain on the side of his head caused him to immediately wake up as he shooed the rodent away. He told the Chronicle newspaper: "It's horrible to think a rat bit my head. I have been living like this for weeks and weeks, there's an infestation."

The 80-year-old said he contacted Gateshead Council to sort the problem, which later found the source of the problem to be bird feeders in DiCarlo's garden.

A council spokesman said: "Food is one of the main attractions to rats coming to properties as well as water and shelter, and on the advice of pest control officers, Mr DiCarlo has now removed the feeders from his property."

The council said the premises was last inspected on February 23 and stated no rat poison had been taken since 19 January. Unfortunately for Dicarlo, he has had to flee his home altogether and sleep in his greenhouse because of the stench caused by the rodenticide.

"It's just non stop, I can't take much more," he added.

More rat attacks

Last June, bedridden Pamela Hudson, 75, was gnawed on the arm by a rat that left her waiting for help in her blood-soaked nightie at her council-run sheltered housing.

According to a report in The Sun, council bosses threatened Pamela's daughter, Jan, 48, with legal action if she ever revealed details of her mother's injuries following the incident, that they blamed was caused by a squirrel.

But deciding to release the photos to the paper, Jan said: "We want the world to see these pictures so this can never happen again."

York Counci later released a statement apologising and saying it never was able to "determine the exact circumstances of how the injuries occurred".

Apparently Pamela, who was transferred to a private care home, never got over the attack before dying three months later.