Remember the ferocious Rodents Of Unusual Size in the fire swamps of The Princess Bride? They are now invading the Florida Keys.
Though the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been trying to clear the area of the huge, 3-foot-long, 9 pound rats for the past ten years, the cat-sized African Gambian rats have staged a comeback. The present swarm is descended from eight rats which escaped from an exotic animal breeder at the turn of the century. Supposedly, the rats were eradicated completely in 2009, but there are now at least a few dozen running wild now.
Not surprisingly, the rats cause quite a stir when they appear in backyards, but they also negatively impact local animal species (as in the rats eat them) and they destroy crops and disrupt ecosystems. In addition, the rats were linked to a 2003 outbreak of Monkeypox (a less serious version of smallpox) in the Midwest.
The rats have been spotted (and harpooned with a pitchfork) in Brooklyn, N.Y., and they are thought to be responsible for killing and eating two babies in South Africa last year.
Fortunately, the Gambian rats produce only one litter of up to six rats every nine months, and they can’t reproduce until they’re five months old.
City officials of Grassy Key plan to kill the remaining rats with poison-laced food.
You can’t make this stuff up. And people think my story is scary.