In new figures, almost 90% of litterers in the region owned up to ditching apples cores, orange peel and fruit stumps. While they were reluctant to own up dumping the burgers, chips and kebabs that are found on 25% of streets, the British Pest Control Association said that these leftovers are proving tasty treats for the rodent population.
So much so that the plethora of dropped food is helping make these super-rats bigger, more energetic and with a longer life span. And with the ability to fit through gaps of just 1cm, the people of Britain are being warned that they could soon be sharing their beds with a whole host of furry creatures.
This is the stark warning from Keep Britain Tidy (KBT), which has launched an advertising campaign in cinemas throughout the East of England showing a couple cosying up in bed together with a hoard of harassing rats crawling across them. It then asks: How close do we have to get?
KBT regional director Nigel Tansley-Thomas said: Food litter is a big problem on our streets. It looks a mess and attracts pests, expanding the UK population of rats to 60 million.
People think its only boozed-up revellers chucking their chips and burgers after a heavy night out that are causing rats to come out of the sewers and roam the streets. But others are also doing their bit to attract rats by dropping their fruit peelings and left-over lunches.
With 45% of 16-24 year olds admitting to dumping kebabs and burgers after a night out, Luton and Colchester councils have teamed up with KBT, using posters to remind the public that litter bins are open all hours.
Tansley-Thomas added: While more than a third of the region admits to dropping food, I believe the real figure is much higher. Whether its a half eaten burger, sandwich crusts or an apple core you drop, you must stop. And realise that the only place for your rubbish is the bin or else rats may get closer than you think.
Luton Borough Council enforcement manager for street services Jon Maddox added that the council spends nearly £4 million a year keeping its streets clean. He urged the public to shop a dropper and to visit www.luton.gov.uk for more information.