KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Rat catchers will be rehired immediately at Kuala Lumpur's international airport, a top official said Wednesday after a Malaysian Airlines flight to Australia was forced to return when a rat was spotted on board.

Rats are dangerous because, along with posing health risks, they like to nibble on electrical wiring.

Friday's incident in the first class cabin of a flight to Perth demonstrated how rats can disrupt airline operations, Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.

When work on the Kuala Lumpur International Airport started, local experts were hired to exterminate rats in the area, which was previously an oil palm plantation, Ling said.

``I must check whether the experts have been dismissed or not. We need those experts to get rid of the rats from the airport,'' he said.

About 700 to 800 rats were believed to be in the vicinity, he added.