Yesterday, a terrifying photo of a massive 4ft rat which was reportedly found on the streets of London went viral, and had us ready to flee the UK to avoid the inevitable mutant rodent apocalypse which was clearly upon us.
British gas engineer Tony Smith, 46, claimed to have found the corpse of the beast in a bush near a kid’s playground in Hackney Downs, north London. He added that it weighed around 25lbs and measured around 4ft long (including the tail).
The picture of the rat, held by Tony’s electrician friend James, seemed to confirm that dog-sized vermin had in fact mutated inside the sewers of the British capital, and it was time for us to welcome our rat overlords.
However, it appears we may all have been fooled by a simple trick of perspective.
That’s according to Hackney Council, anyway, who illustrated the point with a puppet:
— Hackney Council (@hackneycouncil) March 11, 2016
Soon, more people jumped in to point out that the whole thing was just an illusion created by holding a regular sized rat closer to the camera:
— Daniel Bentley (@DJBentley) March 11, 2016
Oliver O’Brien, senior researcher and data scientist at UCL, even did the maths, concluding that the rat was only about two-feet long at best:
The “giant rat” is two foot rather than the “four foot” claimed in the press. Perspective trick. Here’s my working: pic.twitter.com/DYGE3hPDSz
— Oliver O'Brien (@oobr) March 11, 2016
It’s all very Father Ted, to be honest…
No it's not a giant rat. It's perspective. pic.twitter.com/nGD2PdrWzp
— Instruct (@instruct) March 11, 2016
So it looks like this rules out the chances of child-sized rodents taking over UK cities anytime soon. Thank fuck for that!
Even so, we’re not exactly thrilled that there are legitimate 2ft rats running around London either…