Skip to main content

Iranian sharpshooters target rats

By Ashley Fantz and Shirzad Bozorgmehr, CNN
updated 5:53 AM EST, Wed March 6, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Big rats are reportedly running rampant in 26 districts in Tehran
  • The government uses poison, and teams of sharpshooters are killing the rodents with air guns
  • The biggest headache is Norwegian rats, which can grow to 16 inches

(CNN) -- The rats die hard in Iran.

Sharpshooters in Tehran are training their air gun scopes on the country's longstanding rodent problem. Rats are reportedly running rampant in 26 districts in the capital.

Iran has the biggest beef with Norwegian rats, Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, a top environmental official, told CNN.

He said the critters have "entered Iran from abroad by cargo ships."

Though it's unclear if the rats come with paperwork, a search of ratbehavior.org shows that that particular kind of rat can grow 16 inches long. And they are very aggressive, "fighting, chasing, biting and boxing."

While the Iranians have used poison to kill the rats during the daytime, at night the teams of sharpshooters use infrared lenses to hunt them down.

"We have identified the rats' places of congregation by using (computer) software," Heydarzadeh explained.

By the end of 2013, the Iranians hope to have 40 teams of shooters working, he added.

So far, 2,205 rats have been killed. Their bodies are carted off and incinerated or buried in special dumps, the environmental official explained.

University researchers are working with the government to assess whether their newest plan of attack is working.

But Heydarzadeh feels good.

"The number of these rodents in Tehran," he said, "is on the decline."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
The U.S. and several Arab nations carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, intensifying the campaign against the militant group.
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
A mysterious Chicago fire and possible suicide attempt causes massive disruption in the U.S.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Emma Watson lent her name and her glittery profile to the cause of feminism at the United Nations.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT