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Horrified workmen discovered a colony of rats living inside a world-famous water feature.
The rodents were just yards from Birmingham City’s Council House, and were found inside the Floozie in the Jacuzzi fountain.
Workers had begun ripping up plants as part of a £25 million scheme to regenerate the city centre when they came across the animals.
Pest control officers were then called in to deal with the infestation.
One workman told Birmingham Live : “A colleague managed to hit one of the rats on the head with a spade and he killed it.
"But the other rats appeared ready to start eating the one we'd killed. We thought we might find lots of needles and things like that in the garden, but we didn't."
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: "Environmental Health’s pest control team was called in on Wednesday (November 11) to treat parts of The River, which is currently being prepared for inspection to see what needs to be done to restore it as a fountain, after a number of rats were found on site.
"This has now been fully treated and officers will continue to monitor this issue to ensure the matter has been resolved."
The Floozie in the Jacuzzi is part of The River feature, designed by artist Dhruva Mistry.
At this time of year, it would typically be surrounded by the Birmingham German Christmas Market.
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Last month, Birmingham was declared the UK’ most rat-infested city.
It saw the most calls to pest controllers in October.
Pest.co.uk, one of the country’s leading vermin exterminators, had 353 callouts for rat problems in the city.
There were 305 in Newcastle, 266 in Leeds and 251 in Liverpool.
The critters are thriving as many town and city centres are emptied due to the pandemic, while vacant shops and offices offer warm and dry places to build nests.
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