Rat hunters to use facial recognition in war against humanity’s greatest pest

Pest controllers are to use facial recognition technology to track down rats.

Cameras placed at infested sites will be able to identify individual vermin.

That will allow controllers to accurately count the number of rats targeting a location, follow them and pick them off one-by-one.

Pest control giant Rentokil Initial has developed a hi-tech identification system which can distinguish one rat from another.

The new technology – which will be unveiled later this week – has been designed at the company's innovation hub in Crawley, West Sussex.

It has undergone British trials and is ready to be rolled across the country.

The company declared: "Pest control is going digital.''

Boffins came up with the breakthrough after scientists discovered tame and aggressive – or wild – rats had different skull shapes.

Their coats are also different colours.

The hi-tech cameras will be able to detect minute differences in individuals' head shapes.

Using image data from thousands of rats, it can correctly classify and identify each rat with a tool called "machine vision".

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While some people keep rats as pets and the creatures have been heroes of Hollywood films, they continue to be associated with disease.

Rentokil believe they have been responsible for more deaths than all the wars of the past 1,000 years.

There have been several recent reports of "giant rats" invading Brit homes through lavatories.

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Rats' ability to reproduce quickly and en masse is said to be their greatest advantage over human rat-catchers.

A female rat births around six litters a year comprising as many as 12 rat pups, who reach sexual maturity after nine weeks.

That means just two rats can multiply to 1,250 in under a year, and then continue to grow in size and population from there.

Experts believe the new camera system will revolutionise pest control.

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