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Cat-Sized Rats on the Prowl in the Florida Keys

Pest or adorable exotic pet?

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Cat-Sized rats have been showing their whiskers in the Florida Keys. These gigantic rodents are called Gambian giant pouch rats and their rate of reproduction has allowed them to overcome efforts to eradicate the creatures for the past four years. They can produce 20 offspring within nine months.

One concern of officials in Miami is that this species could migrate to the mainland and destroy valuable crops.

Scott Hardin, the Exotic Species Coordinator for Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that they “thought we had them whipped as of 2009…. In the early part of 2011, a resident e-mailed me and said he saw one of the rats. We were skeptical but went back and talked to people and [saw] there were rats that we missed.” Hardin went on to say that he “would not imagine there’s more than another couple of dozen at most. We’ve caught them all within a half-mile of each other… We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced.”

Gambian giant pouch rats are from Africa and can grow up to nine pounds making them the largest rat in the world. They were imported as pets until they were banned in 2003 due to the Monkey Pox outbreak. Six or 7 animals were released on Grassy Key by a breeder in 2000-2002 and have multiplied and spread.

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One thing Floridians have on their side is the fact that the southern tip of Florida has a growing population of giant pythons that are likely to dine on the rats.

A few months ago a man in Brooklyn found the rat and speared it with a garden rake. But don’t be alarmed, officials think that it was just someone’s pet.

Watch this Gambian store six walnuts in his mouth within a minute:

Would you want one of these creatures as a pet? Do you think that they are cute?

Some people on Twitter think so while others are baffled:

Cute! Can I adopt one? RT @ErikLoomis: The Gambian rat has invaded the Florida Keys. …. http://t.co/NrJPwY39(image) 12 hours ago via Seesmic ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

omg want “@RL_Stine: The largest rat in the world? It’s the Gambian Pouched Rat. It can grow to three feet long! Cute? http://t.co/vX9Zo3us(image) 20 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Nine-pound rats?!?!?!??! http://t.co/EAJNz8dw(image) 6 minutes ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

http://t.co/CDjRwXHx This a Giant Gambian Pouch Rat, WTF a rat the size of a cat smh. Bad (cont) http://t.co/dq0X0I4q(image) 10 hours ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

RT @BigBoss954: @This_Guy88 @dshow50 iPrestige23 http://t.co/4VUJWWiF < So when they get inside homes are they the worlds largest mice?(image) 16 minutes ago via Echofon ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

9lb rat infestation in Florida. Yikes! Look at those things. Someone get Splinter! #TMNT! http://t.co/G7uFYZem(image) 18 minutes ago via HootSuite ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Watch this mom play with her baby:

Cat-Sized Rats on the Prowl in the Florida Keys
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  • Gianna

    This isn’t news. Do any of you watch Swamp People? They cook these things up and make stew out fo them.

    • Kay

      On Swamp People-the definately DO NOT eat these rats! Ist of all-they are not in Louisiana! I live 20 minutes from Troy and grew up on Lake Verret in Pierre Part. You may be thinking of Nutria- a rodent brought in by the McIlhenny family (Tabasco sause) in the ’20′s or 30′s.BUT EVEN in Louisiana-there is NOT a market for Nutria as a food product!

      • http://www.history.com Choot it Lizbeth

        Do you know Elizabeth? I bet she is a tree breaker in person.

  • Ted

    This is not news 30 years ago working in st petersberg I had to solder nails to a rat trap to catch them. Ask the landlord we rented from as I hung the dead ones from a clothes line in the back yard. They also have cochroaches the size of bats and they fly.

    • Bill

      You,my friend,are a badass

  • http://yahoo Hailey Paige Marshall

    wow i looked at that rat is it real it dosent look like it

  • http://www.thewidowspeakbandit.com The Widows Peak Bandit

    Forget Rat Poison, I’m calling the Brinks Truck on these rodents!

  • KevinFinnerty

    Why do humans automatically and without consience or remorse kill animals just because they are deemed some kind of threat … or even worse for “sport” … hopefully ET life will come here and eradicate humans from the face of the Earth …

    • Diane

      I completely agree…it’s sickening how humans treat animals. You can tell the true measure of a person by how they treat other living beings. Rats are sensitive and extremely smart. As a kid I had a tame rat and it was an awesome pet…I even took him to school twice for science show-and-tell.

      • http://yahoo Bill

        I’ve noticed through the years, that it’s usually the less educated and volatile people that hurt creatures that cant defend themselves. Hunting is one thing,but if your not going to eat it,don’t kill it!

    • j.r. stapler

      You are right. It’s not sporting to hunt the poor dumb rats. It would be much more sporting to hunt the bleeding hearts that want to protect everything, except humanity.

      Capnmoe
      director of P.E.T.A.(People-Eating-Tasty-Animals)

  • DagoT

    Who let that douchebag on the video get bred?

  • maya

    now rats, go find zimmerman and eat his big fat a$$ alive

    • bob

      they b to smart to eat their own kind. They b lookin for idiots like u that don’t know sheet from shine-ola

  • Rob

    Wow they’re big. I personally have a 3lb water rat as a pet & you would be surprised. He’s funny & really tame, he’s smart as all get out and rides on my shoulder when he’s not sending any woman he meets the other direction he’s really funny

  • Roger Wilson

    Well if they come to Texas we will probably have the fattest rattlesnakes in the world

  • Susan Katzakian

    He’s Huge. He looks like he’s part hamster and rabbit. I would never think that he’s a giant rat. OMG!

  • Luke

    “I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.” ―Luke Skywalker[src]

  • jule

    Ewww I just got the ebee jeebiez…rodents carry disease (remember the black plague in the middle ages?)

  • Cindy

    D I S G U S T I N G ! ! !