Cat-Sized Rats on the Prowl in the Florida KeysBy: Heather Campobello - March 27, 2012
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.
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:
Watch this mom play with her baby: