Thursday, 29 March 2012

Florida Keys suffers invasion of giant Gambian rats

A breed of giant Gambian rats have been rapidly reproducing in the area, despite a decade-long effort to wipe them out.

Weighing in at as much as nine pounds (4kgs) some can grow to be larger than the average house cat.

With thousands of Britons a year among the tourist horde that descends on an area known for its spectacular mangroves and coral, Florida officials are keen to wipe out the problem.

The rats first spread back in 2001 after a local exotic animal breeder released eight of them into the wild.

Officials thought they had successfully exterminated the population back in 2009, but several of the burrowing creatures have recently shown up in the yards of local residents.

Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told KeysNet: "We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced.

"We're going to try to trap them... until we see signs that we have knocked them back."

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