THEY'RE bigger and stronger and they're in your town.

Super-sized rats bred on a diet of leftover takeaways have been spotted in Bournemouth, say environmental health experts.

The well-fed rodents are larger and longer-living than normal rats, yet they can squeeze through tiny gaps, making it easy for them to get into your home.

Environmental campaigners say rat populations are rocketing because people are dropping food such as pizzas, chips and kebabs on the streets.

And fast food lovers are not the only ones to blame for the plague - lunchtime munchers chucking away fruit peelings such as banana skins and apple cores are also boosting vermin.

Senior pest control technician at Bournemouth Borough Council Nic Wedge said: "Rats are an issue that all urban areas like Bournemouth have to deal with.

"Generally, rat reports are on the increase and we have had some sightings of the so-called super rats'.

Alan Woods from the Keep Britain Tidy campaign said: "Food litter is a big problem on our streets.

"It looks a mess and attracts pests - expanding the population of fat rats to 60 million.

"People think it's only boozed-up revellers chucking their chips and burgers after a heavy night out that is causing rats to come out of their sewers and roam the streets.

"Others are also doing their bit to scruffy our streets by dropping their fruit peelings and left-over lunches."

Mr Wedge said Bournemouth's pest control officers respond swiftly to sightings, and known hot spots where rats are seen most frequently are regularly monitored.

He added: "Keeping areas clean and free from rubbish minimises the attraction to rats and we can all do our bit.

"Please remember to throw your rubbish away in the bins provided or take it home and dispose of it.

"Even bio-degradable items such as apple cores can be an attraction and should be put in bins or composted."

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Cleaning our streets costs millions of pounds each year and it's the taxpayer who foots the bill.

"Binning your litter protects the environment and saves money on your council tax bill.

"You can now be fined on the spot up to £80 for failing to do so."