Feeds

Florida battles rats the size of cats

Gambian pouched rat menaces Keys

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.