A woman says her hero pet rat stopped her house from going up in flames and with it her life.

Caroline Davis claims to have been half awake when she dropped a lit cigarette onto her dressing gown as she drifted off into a snooze.

Pet rodent, creatively named Ratty, spotted the fag burning a hole and instantly leapt into action by scooping it up and dropping it onto non-flammable conservatory tiles, Caroline says.

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The 61-year-old mum-of-two from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, says the pet then set to work waking her up by climbing over her.

Caroline said: "That night, if it hadn't of been for Ratty, we could have lost our home, or maybe even our lives.

"She saved us, and I like to think that's her way of paying me back for rescuing her in the first place."

Remarkably Ratty wasn't bought as a pet but rescued by Caroline after her cat, Paddy, dropped him inside as a wounded gift eighteen months ago.

She put her in a small cage and gave her food and water, although she didn't expect her to survive the night.

But she clung on and, as the days went by, Caroline and her husband Malcolm, 64, continued to take care of her.

After a few weeks, Ratty had become used to being fed every day and to life in a cage, so she decided to keep her and raise her as her own.

Caroline said: "To be honest with you, when my cat brought her in I didn't think she would survive the night.

"I only fed and watered her to give her a comfortable end, but to my surprise she just kept getting stronger and stronger.

"It got to the point where she'd been with me for so long, she probably wouldn't survive back out in the wild.

"So I kept her, and earlier this month she repaid me in spades.

And she believes Ratty repaid her compassion earlier this month when she fell asleep smoking a cigarette on her sofa.

Caroline has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and says the drugs and medication she's on means she suffers from a mild form of narcolepsy.

When she nodded off, the cigarette set her gown alight, prompting Ratty to run over and get hold of it with her mouth.

Caroline claims the rodent then had the intelligence to move the cigarette on to the nearby conservatory tiles, before going back to wake her.

Meanwhile Malcolm, a retired orthopaedic nurse, was fast asleep upstairs.

She said: "I have been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and the treatment and medication makes me fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

"This particular night I was on the sofa having a cigarette when I nodded off and the ember fell on my dressing gown – causing it to set alight.

"I was completely out of it, but Ratty must have noticed the smouldering fumes, and she came and picked up the cigarette and moved it to a safe place.

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"She then ran up my leg and was clawing at me to wake me up just as the flames reached my skin.

"That did the trick, and I was able to put my gown out quickly after.

"I have some mild burns on my thigh and a huge hole in my jeans and gown – but if it wasn't for her, the whole house could have gone up.

"That's when it struck me, that little wild rat may well have repaid me for rescuing her in the first place.

"She is a true hero!"

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