When Signe Bengtsson heard noise coming from her kitchen, she had no idea what was in store.
The Swedish mother of two who lives north of Stockholm noticed that even the family cat refused to investigate the ruckus. It was only when she was emptying the trash one day when she saw a giant rat underneath the sink.
"It was right there in our rubbish bin, a mighty monster. I was petrified. I couldn't believe such a big rat could exist," she told The Local. "I couldn't help but do the old classic and jump on the kitchen table and scream."
Her husband, Erik Korsås, was certain his wife was exaggerating. By the time he returned home days later, the rat had already made a feast of the garbage, continued to make several frightening appearances and got comfortable in his new surroundings.
"By the time I got home, the rat was so domesticated that it just sat under the kitchen table," Korsås said.
The family managed to corner the rat in the kitchen and lock it inside before pest controllers came to trap it. Three heavy-duty traps were set in the kitchen. The rat got caught by one but did not die immediately. It ran behind the dishwasher, where it later died.
"The kids were afraid it would come back to life as some sort of zombie rat. They didn't want to touch it," Korsås said, adding the rat measured just over 15 inches.
The incident, which took place three weeks ago, was documented by the family with souvenir photos. News of the “mega rat” began to spread after the family contacted Sweden's Home And Rent website to see if it was interested in the story.
Soon the rat dominated social media with a new name, “Ratzilla.” The notorious rodent became the most-shared news article in the country with users' comments varying from disgust to awe.
“A little bit of vomit just came in my mouth,” one user tweeted.
“That rat is big enough to run for political office!” another reader commented.
Pest controllers said the rat probably entered the family’s home by chewing through cement and wood to make it into a ventilation pipe into the kitchen.
"It was quite a shocking experience," Bengtsson said. "No one wanted to go into the kitchen after, and the cat was terrified for a week. The pest controllers said they'd never seen such a big rat before."