RATS have been plaguing the homes and properties in Old Town for decades and have even driven businesses out of their premises.

In the past, visitors to the area have reported seeing as many as six young rats in the flower borders and scavenging in abandoned rubbish bags while they walk from the station to Old Town in daylight.

In 2007, Tony Knowles Interiors was forced to abandon its Victoria Road premesis after rats moved into the building’s cellar.

They then began creeping into the ground floor, forcing the business to move.

Then in 2009 research by Professor Robert Smith, while dean of applied science at the University of Huddersfield, discovered that rats in the town possess the Super Rat gene, meaning that local rats are particularly difficult to kill with traditional poison used by exterminators.

Speaking at the time, the professor said: “There are mutations and changes in their DNA that alter the ability of rats to deal with these poisons.

“That is a resilient gene, and although it is in Swindon it doesn’t mean that all Swindon rats have it.

“But it is a warning of things to come.”