Paper Round

A Northamptonshire charity is advising members of the public that a rat is for life, not just for Christmas, after a surge in the number of abandoned rodents.

Speaking to the BBC News website, a spokeswoman for Animals Needing Nurturing and Adoption blamed the plight of the furry creatures on the popularity of recently released Disney animation Ratatouille.

After seeing the film, children had rushed out to buy pet rats but later dumped them, the spokeswoman claimed. Since Christmas, the charity has received 40 abandoned rats, for which it is now caring.

"I think some of it is due to the film Ratatouille," said the spokeswoman. "They are alive, and they deserve more than people are giving them."

An audit of items lost at National Trust properties in East Anglia has yielded some unexpected finds, including a box of Viagra and a ninja turtle. The Norfolk news website EDP24 reported that a box of the drug for erectile dysfunction was discovered at the popular Blickling Hall, while the ninja turtle was found at Oxburgh Hall near King's Lynn, possibly attracted by the moat there.

Singer Pete Doherty, who is known as much for his voracious appetite for class A substances as for his musical abilities, is reportedly in training to take part in the charity fundraising event the Flora London Marathon.

The Daily Mirror is already predicting that it could be an even worse performance than that of Big Brother contestant Jade Goody two years ago.

Before the race, Goody freely admitted that she had consumed curries and beer as part of her training diet. She then jogged only eight miles of the 26.2-mile course and spent four hours walking another 10 before she collapsed.

A spokesman for Doherty said: "You never know what could happen."

HE SAID IT - 'Charities are a huge business, relieved of taxes. But they are being nationalised by stealth' - Simon Jenkins, journalist and columnist, The Sunday Times.

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