Feeds

Florida battles rats the size of cats

Gambian pouched rat menaces Keys

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

US authorites have just begun the final phase of a two-year offensive to eliminate the non-native Gambian pouched rat from the Florida Keys, Reuters reports.

The cat-sized rodent has for the last eight years been breeding in Grassy Key, 60 miles north of Key West, after an exotic pet breeder "allowed the critters to escape". Officials fear they might do a cane toad and spread across Florida, threatening crops and indigenous wildlife.

The US has now banned importation of Gambian pouched rats, amid concerns they may be a vector for monkey-pox, "similar to but milder to humans than smallpox", after the disease was "linked to Gambian rat contact with prairie dogs in the US Midwest".

Gary Witmer, a biologist with the US Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Centre in Fort Collins, Colorado, explained: "They don't belong here and they need to be controlled. They could cause a lot of damage. They're a big rodent. They're not particularly attractive. I don't understand why anyone would want them as a pet. They're very messy animals."

According to Reuters' description of the beast, Witmer's right. The Gambian pouched rat weighs in at 6-9lbs (2.7-4 kg), and boasts "large ears, black, beady eyes, hamster-like pouched facial cheeks, sharp teeth and distinctive long, stringy and white-marked tails".

Wildlife officials have now begun to bait 1,000 rat-busting traps with peanut butter, almond extract, anise, and less appetising toxic zinc phosphide, hoping the animals will take a final meal and crawl off into their burrows to die.

But while Florida may soon be free of the Gambian pouched rat menace, it has other threats to face. In mid-April, officials captured an 8-foot (2.4-metre) Burmese python in a Key Largo state park, which had dined on two of around 500 remaining Key Largo wood rats - an endangered species. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.