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
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
updated 3:03 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN how they were kidnapped and says no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him since his release.
updated 9:51 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
updated 6:16 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
updated 11:34 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
What will happen to Scotland's business (not to mention its currency) if they vote to leave?
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Go to any provincial city in China and you'd be forgiven for thinking the national youth pastimes are online gaming and flirting.
updated 4:51 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
Are you Muslim? What do you want the world to know about your religion?
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 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