NEWS to gladden the hearts of animal lovers comes from Germany, where a nine-strong team of rescuers was deployed to save a sewer rat which was so fat that it became stuck while trying to wriggle through a gap in a manhole cover.

Rather than bash the rotund rodent over the head, a passer-by in Bensheim, near Frankfurt, alerted animal rescuer Michael Sehr, who was unable to lift the heavy iron cover. The local equivalent of Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb, an eight-strong party of volunteer firemen, were soon on the scene. After a life-or-death struggle they managed to return the animal, nicknamed Theresa, to its malodorous home where it probably gave birth to a dozen ratlings.

The incident will no doubt inspire the French protesters who recently stepped in to halt the mass poisoning of Paris’s proliferating rat population.

And it was welcomed yesterday by the chair of the British pressure group Rights for Rats. In an exclusive interview with TCW at her home in Hampstead, Vermintrude Soubry-Lineker declared: ‘At last the world is beginning to see sense. For too long our friend the rat has been vilified. Some of the reporting has been biased in the extreme. Rats have been portrayed as Leavers in the past purely because of their tendency to abandon sinking ships and follow pied pipers out of town. But I can confirm that the modern rat is a Remainer through and through.’

In further news from the stigmatised animal community:

THE Silverfish Appreciation Society is to hold a rally in Hyde Park on Sunday, at which squares of damp carpet will be handed out to be placed in the corner of the kitchen.

A BENEFIT concert is being planned by the Friends of the Wasp. Venue yet to be announced but it has been confirmed that the admission fee will be pegged at £20 provided those attending bring at least one slice of bread thickly coated with jam or lemon curd. Top of the bill will be Sting.

THE Royal Society for the Protection of Ticks has put out an appeal for dog owners to visit shady, moist areas with their pets. Spokesperson Andy Box said: ‘If your dog is lucky enough to come home with ticks, on no account should they be removed as this will cause them unnecessary stress.’

THE Tapeworm Liberation Front – slogan ‘Embrace your inner parasite’ – is to field candidates in every constituency at the next general election. Secretary-general Annelid Coyle said: ‘We are hoping for a big turnout.’

COCKROACHES R Us have announced that they are now on Twitter.

THE Headlice Protection League has called for fine-tooth combs and disinfectant shampoo to be outlawed. These can be handed in at your local police station.

THE Flea Information Bureau has sacked its chief executive because his work wasn’t up to scratch.

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Alan Ashworth
Alan Ashworth is a former national newspaper journalist now retreated to the Ribble Valley, where he grows cacti and tramps the fells with the family dog Bingo. He and his wife Margaret run a website, A-M Records , which includes their collected TCW columns plus extra features including Tracks of the Day. Requests, queries and comments can be sent to alanj126@yahoo.co.uk