THE city of Worcester is "alive with rats", a local pest control company has claimed.
And Cripplegate Park and the riverside near the Worcester Bridge are hotspots for the creatures, according to Nigel Probert, owner of Astwood Road-based Verminater Pest Control.
Shocked visitor Michael Gale, aged 65, of Rushwick said he spotted three running about in the park.
"I was shocked. When they saw me they scuttled under the hedge," he said.
"I found another lying dead near the tennis courts soon after.
"Children play in the park and people walk their dogs there. Rats can carry disease so who knows what would happen if a child or a pet were to get bitten."
But according to Mr Probert, Mr Gale is not the only person to voice concerns about the park.
Mr Probert, who set up his business in 1996, said: "Friends and neighbours always tell me about the rats there. I looked for myself and it is quite appalling.
"I've been driving on New Road before and I've seen rats the size of cats hanging around the park."
But Mr Probert said Cripplegate Park isn't the only place favoured by rats.
"Worcester city is alive with rats. Another hotspot is down by the river where people feed the swans. I've sat in the car park near the college and seen dozens of them.
"My advice to people is, if you see a rat, report it to the council. Also, if you feed the birds in your garden or anywhere else, make sure all the food is gone because that will attract rats.
"Some rats can carry Weil's disease (a bacterial infection) which affects humans, and it's impossible to tell which rat has it, so every rat is a potential carrier."
A Worcester City Council spokesman said: “We take a number of steps to control the rat population at Cripplegate Park.
"We place bait boxes at a number of locations which are regularly checked and maintained, and we empty bins in the park every day over the summer months.
"We will never eliminate all rats in a public open space like this.
"However, everyone can play their part to keep on top of the problem, both at Cripplegate and other parts of the city, by carefully disposing of any food waste.”