A pet rat with a penchant for collecting and hoarding rubbish accidentally started a fire when it picked up a cigarette butt.
Firefighters said they believed the rat, which has free run of its owners flat on Westminster Road, in Morecambe, had dragged the smouldering fag into its cage where it had rubbish including beer cans and paper collected for a nest.
In the early hours of the morning, the rubbish caught fire and set a smoke alarm off, alerting the flat’s residents to the rat’s plight.
The rat’s cage and its contents were destroyed and the living room of the flat was severely smoke damaged after the incident.
The rat survived the scare.
Katie Addis, a vet at Bay Veterinary Group, said: “Rats do like collecting things and they’re very inquisitive creatures.
“The rat might have thought the cigarette was food as the tobacco would smell sweet.
“They can get hooked on chocolate and sweets, but getting hooked on cigarettes is a dangerous habit!
“I would have thought it was part of its natural nesting behaviour but I’ve not heard of a rat doing this before.”
Mark Bateson, green watch manager at Morecambe Fire Station said: “The rat was building a nest and found a cigarette butt.
“The fire alarm detected the fire and the occupants got out and the rat scurried away. The fire was accidental. People need to be careful with discarded cigarettes.”
A Places for People housing association spokesperson, said: “
“This appears to have been an accident and no-one was hurt.
“The fire brigade have spoken with the resident and offered some advice on safety.”