Visitors to a Hartlepool leisure park were shocked to see dozens of rats scurrying around in plain view.
Ryan Holroyd estimated he saw more than 40 of the rodents scampering about outside businesses at The Lanyard near Hartlepool marina on Tuesday night.
Mr Holroyd, 28, said the animals were in bushes, around bins and in the car parks after he paid a visit to KFC’s drive through at around 9pm.
His sister Sam Holroyd filmed the rodents on her mobile phone to show the scale of the infestation.
KFC says they came from the railway line which runs alongside the rear of businesses on the retail park but have not encroached inside the restaurant.
Hartlepool Borough Council confirmed it has received a complaint about the problem and is monitoring the situation.
I have never seen so many in my life. It was horrendousRyan Holroyd
Mr Holroyd, who lives in the town centre area and works in computing, said: “I have never seen so many in my life. It was horrendous.
“My friend joked about the pied piper coming out of the cinema and leading them all away.”
He added: “I turned my car engine off and suddenly saw something running towards my car.
“I thought ‘what the hell was that?’ and it was rats. There must have been 40 plus. There were some in the car park further towards the cinema.
“The bushes were alive with them. They carry some awful diseases.”
A KFC spokesperson said: “We take food hygiene incredibly seriously. The Environmental Health Office are happy that this issue hasn’t affected the restaurant itself, which has a Food Hygiene Rating of 5/5.
“They’re aware of a pest problem in the area, which stems from the nearby railway lines and unfortunately does occasionally affect our car park.
“We’ve been in discussions with the local authority on how to tackle the issue, and are also looking into adding extra precautions to ensure the restaurant itself remains unaffected.”
A Hartlepool council spokesman added: “In cases of rat infestation, responsibility for dealing with the problem lies with the owner of the land in question.
“I can confirm that we did recently receive a complaint from a member of the public concerning land within the Hartlepool marina area.
“We note that action is currently being taken to address the issue and we will continue to monitor the situation.”