CONCERNED residents worry that a rat infestation in Bournemouth gardens is the "tip of the iceberg".

A volunteer has slammed the public for littering in the area, leading to pests making it their home.

Residents told the Echo that they are are ‘disgusted and disappointed’ with the number of rats that can be seen scuttling around Bournemouth Gardens.

Dorset Devils litter picking volunteer Tony Higgins explained that seeing rats in Bournemouth Gardens is becoming more and more common.

He said: “I have seen rats all over Bournemouth; some of them are the size of kittens.

Tony explained how the litter is becoming a ‘real problem’ in Bournemouth Gardens and, in turn, is creating a pest problem.

Tony said: “When I walk through the gardens, there is litter everywhere, and of course, you get vermin coming at eating everything.”

One resident said: “I saw around thirty rats running across the path near Bournemouth Pavilion.

“The scary thing is that they weren’t even running away.”

Bournemouth Echo: Rats in Bournemouth. Picture by Luke Williams. Rats in Bournemouth. Picture by Luke Williams. (Image: Luke Williams)

Dill Morris has lived in Bournemouth for 60 years, and she explained that the gardens are ‘deteriorating rapidly.’ Dill said: “I have never seen so many all at once; it used to be Bournemouth Pleasure Gardens. You certainly cannot call it that any more.

“I am not only disgusted but disappointed with how Bournemouth is deteriorating; it’s sad to see what a beautiful town with happy people once, fantastic nightlife, and lots of shops.

She added: “Who would want to come here on holiday now?”

Councillor Kieron Wilson, portfolio holder for housing and regulatory services at BCP Council, said: “Numbers of rats have increased in built-up areas in recent years, and council services are working hard with businesses to ensure they are controlled.

“Known encampments of rats are effectively treated by the council’s environmental health team on a regular basis.

“To help manage the number of rats, we ask property owners and businesses to act responsibly.

"Dispose of food waste correctly, do not leave it in the street, and limit access to warm sleeping areas. This will help to decrease rodent population in the area.”