An enormous two-foot rat caught in Lincolnshire is the biggest one the pest controller who caught it has seen in an 18-year career. The rodent, which has also been described as being the size of a toddler, was caught in Grimsby by Jeff Sullivan, who owns SWAT Total Pest Control.

The former Royal Engineer told the Daily Mail that unlike certain other giant rodents that have recently hit the headlines, this one really is as big as it sounds.

He said: "There is a lot of misrepresentation with guys taking photos of rats with mobile phones and holding it out at an extreme arms length to create the illusion that it's bigger than it really is," he said, "But this is the real deal; it's the largest rat I've ever seen."

Jeff said that this current rash of outsized animals is due to rats getting the chance to eat high-protein food, which allows them to bulk up. Even substances like dog poo are allowing them to grow, while leftover maize containing vitamin K is an antidote to many common poisons.

He added: "Infestations like this are a serious public health issue. Rats carry around 35 diseases such as leptospirosis and rat bite fever, and urinate as they travel. Due to their tolerance of shop-bought poisons, the only real way of tackling the problem is to contact a fully qualified pest controller."

Last month in the London borough of Hackney, a pest control operative claimed he had trapped a rat reaching four feet in size, in a story that shocked the media. Since then, though, his story has faced scrutiny, with several observers suggesting pictures of the rat used camera perspective tricks to make its corpse seem larger than it actually was.

And last year, archaeologists working East Timor found evidence of ancient rats the size of dogs.

Someone better call Dread Pirate Roberts.