RATS have been climbing up through sewage pipes and into people’s toilets, a pest controller says.

One woman found a rodent swimming in her toilet and used a roll of duct tape to keep the lid shut while she called for help.

Others have weighed down the toilet lids, terrified that rats would emerge into their bathrooms.

Pest controller Paul Storey, who trades as the Pest Detective, said he had been called by a number of hysterical customers in recent months.

He had found rats in toilets in Bransgore, Blandford and Weymouth – and fitted drain guards in Poole, Bournemouth and Verwood, after rats entered pipes and sometimes into cavity walls.

In scenes he likened to the James Herbert horror novel The Rats, he said the brown rat appears to be taking a greater interest in domestic WCs.

The former Royal Marine who is based in Poole, said: “I have had a number of calls recently across Dorset and some in Hampshire from those with rats in their toilets, and as you’d imagine they are terrified.

“When I joined this industry 13 years ago I didn’t know that trying to calm people down would be such an important part of the job.

“But when you look into your toilet and see a rat, it’s really scary for the customer and they can get quite hysterical.

“In the jobs I have attended, when a rat comes up through the pipes into a toilet it doesn’t want to go back the way it came so has to be removed.

“They seem to have started climbing and swimming upwards through the pipes.

“I have been to four cases where rats have definitely emerged into the toilet and several others in which the owner has heard them in the pipes. Rats will get into properties for a variety of reasons – from searching for food and shelter to general inquisitiveness.

“Home owners often feel ashamed or embarrassed but there is really no need to; it’s generally not a reflection on them, it’s a reflection on the abundance and tenacity of rats.

“Luckily there is a simple solution to the problem, by inserting a drain guard in the sewer pipe; they work like cat flaps and let the waste out while preventing anything coming back up.

“It is a simple and cost effective solution and will give people peace of mind… until I mention that I have known rats to enter bathrooms via gaps in pipes and scamper across the floor. This is very rare though.”

Mr Storey will be seen on Channel 5’s new series Grime and Punishment on Thursday, July 4.