'The thing of nightmares': Auckland man woke up to rat chewing his face

Ross Campbell said it was a "horrific" experience.
Ross Campbell said it was a "horrific" experience. Photo credit: Ross Campbell / Facebook

An Auckland man who woke up to a rat chewing on his face says it was the "thing of nightmares".

Ross Campbell was sound asleep after taking a sleeping pill when he felt the rude awakening.

"I woke up about three o'clock to some extreme pain," he told Newshub.

"I opened my eyes and I thought I was dreaming - I saw these eyes looking at me attached to my lip. It was extremely painful, so I jumped up and I thought 'am I dreaming or what?'"

It wasn't until he felt liquid dripping down his face that he realised it wasn't a bad dream.

"I had a look in the mirror and I looked like Dracula," he said.

Still in a stupor from the sleeping pill, the Auckland actor told Newshub he cleaned up the wound as best as he could and then went back to bed.

"The next minute I felt my thumb being eaten - it was trying to eat my thumb!"

Campbell, 63, said the incident happened around seven weeks ago in his refurbished studio on Khyber Pass, in Auckland. Following the "horrific" encounter, he went to the hospital to get his injuries checked, he said.

"I would never have dreamt that a rat would be so bold to do that," he said."It's the thing of nightmares bro, I'll tell ya."

He said he suspects the animal was hungry, and may have been drawn to the smell of his breath.

Campbell says he now no longer feels comfortable sleeping in the same place. 

"I'm on tenterhooks. What I do is I've got an army bed - I just put it in the middle of the room where no rats can climb up."

Auckland has faced an infestation of rats in recent months. Last year numbers of the animal exploded due to a "mega-mast' year, where trees and plants produce high amounts of seeds.

The rodents caused havoc in various places across the city, as well as in Wellington and in various places across the South Island, such as Pelorus Sound.

In Titirangi, in west Auckland, residents said rats the size of cats were invading houses and damaging property. 

Campbell said part of the reason he decided to speak out about his rodent run-in was to spread the word about the number of the animals around the city.

"I think maybe there should be an awareness of the rat infestation going on around."

Last year, a pest control expert told Newshub that though rats can grow as large as a cat, it is highly unlikely they would attack felines.

Direct Pest Control owner Doug Morris said while it "very seldom" happens, he has heard of babies being attacked by rats.

In order to deter rats from coming into your house, Morris advised people to make sure undergrowth around properties was cleared and branches were trimmed off roofs.