Invasive species or hero: The Gambian giant pouched rats

10 Apr

Repeating Islands

gambienrat

Growing up to 3 feet in length and weighing as much as 9 pounds, invasive Gambian giant pouched rats were first brought to the United States from to central and southern Africa, as part of the exotic pet trade. According to The Weather Channel’s nature news, in the late 1990s, a pet breeder released about a half-dozen Gambian rats into the wild on Grassy Key, and the giant rat quickly reproduced and spread to other Florida Keys, such as Key Largo and Marathon. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife officials Gambian rat females can have as many as five litters in nine months, with an average of four offspring in each litter. In 2007, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission began extensive efforts to remove this invasive species from the Keys. However, in Africa, these animals are known as hero rats and they are specially-trained to detect landmines and…

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