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 7:55 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
The comparisons are inevitable: A student-led campaign challenges Beijing authorities for greater freedom. Could Hong Kong protests lead to another Tiananmen?
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 3:52 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
In a country with not enough toilets, scavengers are paid just $5 a day to scoop human waste.
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
It's a frightening prospect for South Koreans: secret North Korean tunnels under Seoul
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
If you're lucky, your train might be delayed.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 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