A FOREST that served as the inspiration for Winnie-The-Pooh is now being plagued by a “time-bomb” of poison resistant super rats.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield claim up to 75% of rats in the 2,500 hectare Ashdown Forest are now resistant to most conventional deterrents.

The report states the rats pose a threat to wildlife in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and that recent generations are becoming immune to conventional poisons.

Dr Dougie Clarke who conducted the research warned that stronger poisons need to be put in use in order to stem the tide of the rats.

He told a national newspaper: “I think people should be concerned about these resistant rats because of public health concerns - they carry disease and various other bacteria and viruses and they also damage buildings.

“They cost billions of pounds of damage worldwide.“The seven-year study using rats gathered from all over the country discovered a worrying spread of poison-immune super rats.”

He added: “With the use of rodenticides, that will kill off the normal rats, and then the resistant ones will remain.

“So it’s a sort of time bomb of resistance building up over generations of rats. Unless there’s new legislation for the more toxic poisons and maybe for the more lax use of them, then it will have to be the more physical forms of killing the rats, like rat traps etc, and therefore the costs are going to escalate because of the monitoring and the picking off of the rats, and the dead bodies.”

A spokesman for Ashdown Forest argued the report was not as bad as it sounded.

She said: “The report was not done in conjunction with us and rangers have not seen any of these “super rats” in the forest – while the study itself may be correct it has been reported in a somewhat hysterical manner.”