Darwen locals have assured horrified family that rats the "size of kittens" spotted at Bold Venture Park are nothing to worry about.

A mother who regularly visits the park took her two sons, aged three and six, to the pond when they spotted a huge rat "bold as brass" roaming amongst the ducks.

Darwen East Councillor Paul Browne said he visited the park last year and saw loads of them running around.

He said: "It is a problem, I must admit. But the real problem is the people."

Rats become immune to rat poison so the best solution, according to Browne, is to stop feeding the ducks because they "go bonkers for it when they see bread floating in the water".

Other locals from Darwen shared on Facebook that they had also seen huge rats in Ashton Park as well as in back alleys and people’s gardens, due to people leaving bin bags out.

Lancashire Telegraph: Rat found in alley in DarwenRat found in alley in Darwen

In defence of the rats, local resident Sandra Quirk, 75, said human behaviour causes the rodents to come out of their own environment.

In response to the horrified reaction Sandra said: “They get a bad press. People shouldn’t be frightened of them, it’s sad really.

“If a child’s first reaction when they see a rat is to be scared then that must have been taught.

“If they’re getting into your house then that’s a different story, but you should expect to see them in the wild, they were here before us.”

A spokesperson for Friends of Bold Venture Park, a volunteer group which works in partnership with the council and are dedicated to protecting the environment said: “There are signs attached to the railings asking people not to feed the ducks which people ignore, often standing right next to the signs whilst feeding.

“It isn’t just bread, it has been rice which also attracts the rats.”

Councillor Dave Smith for Darwen West said the issue has been a “long standing problem for a number of years” adding people are only more aware of them because lockdown has been lifted so more people are in the parks.

On the Facebook post, a commenter responded to concerns that rats spread diseases saying they, “are extremely clean and no more likely to pass on diseases than dogs or cows for example".

Both parks are looked after by Blackburn with Darwen Council and the council has placed multiple notices around their parks advising visitors to refrain from feeding the ducks.

Lancashire Telegraph: Bold Venture Park Pic: StreetviewBold Venture Park Pic: Streetview

Councillor Jim Smith, Executive Member for Environment at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: “By leaving the wrong types of foods for ducks, people are instead attracting rats and providing them with a food source that enables them to multiply.

"We would like to again remind all visitors to our parks that leaving or dumping excessive amounts of food will attract vermin and is completely unacceptable.

“Feeding ducks a small amount of lettuce or sweetcorn with young children shouldn’t be an issue – it is large amounts of the wrong kinds of foods that attract rats and other vermin, particularly during the warmer months.

“We want our parks to be a welcoming space for all of our residents, and will continue to work with volunteers and our pest control teams to help ensure this.”