Iran, after years of systematically eliminating political opposition, is now facing a new enemy — rats. And these aren’t your garden-variety, run-of-the-mill vermin: some weigh as much as 5 kilograms (11 pounds) according to the website Qudsonline.ir.
In a scene from the beloved celluloid classic “The Princess Bride,” Wesley states with confidence that he doesn’t believe in the existence of the dreaded ROUSs (rodents of unusual size) and is promptly attacked by one. Needless to say, he recovers to vanquish his furry foe.
But with Wesley and his sword unavailable to visit Tehran, the Iranian regime has opted to deploy sniper teams to target its rat population.
Ismail Kahram, a university lecturer and an environmental adviser to the Tehran city council, was quoted in The London Times as saying that the rats “seem to have had a genetic mutation, probably as a result of radiations and the chemical used on them.”
Kahram opined that change in the size of the city’s rodents “normally take millions of years of evolution…They have jumped from 60 grams to five kilos, and cats are now smaller than them.”
With the rats become increasingly resistant to poison, authorities have discovered that a two-pronged approach including live fire is the way to go: While chemical agents are deployed during the daylight hours, hunters have been stalking furry, four-legged prey at night, using rifles equipped with infra-red sights.
So far, the sharpshooters have only taken out some 2,200 rats, but the municipality plans to increase its force to 40 teams in the future. As though that were not enough, it has also proposed the creation of a Supreme Council to Fight Pests.
Tehran comprises 26 districts, all of which have reported rat infestations, according to Tehran’s environmental agency. Hardest hit has been Vali Asr, a restaurant-lined road that divides the northern and southern halves of the capital.
After they are killed, some of the rats are burned, while others are covered in lime and buried in the city’s southern district of Kahrizak. Perhaps ironically, Kahrizak is also the site of a detention center that was used to imprison opposition protesters who demonstrated against the presidential election results in 2009.