Oh, Rats!

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.

This entry was posted in Quirky news items, Robin Helm on by .

About Robin Helm

Robin Helm's latest work is Understanding Elizabeth, a stand-alone Regency Romance. She joined three other JAFF authors for a best selling Christmas anthology - A Very Austen Christmas. After publishing all three volumes of The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy, she published the Yours by Design Series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours. She and her husband have two adult daughters, two sons-in-law, two granddaughters, a grandson, and a Yorkie Poo named Toby.

9 thoughts on “Oh, Rats!

  1. Susan Kaye

    Eeeeewwwww! I had never seen a rat outside a pet store until I moved to North Portland and saw one scamper under the back fence. I STILL shiver to think of it. This picture doesn’t help. Brrrrrr.


  2. Robin Helm Post author

    We have wharf rats in the South, but they look like babies compared to this monster. If I saw one of these monsters, I would definitely have a heart attack.


  3. janashe

    i’m not sure why you are posting about rats! Has Pemberley been invaded? Is Lizzy atop a chair, long gown clutched in trembling hands, screaming?

    why am I looking at these horrid rodents? Is this a Wickham reincarnation lead in?

    is this really something I want to see before bedtime?


  4. Robin Helm Post author

    I’m truly laughing out loud, Jan. My attention span can be short, and this article caught my eye yesterday. I wrote a creepy chapter today, and I thought the addition of rats might have made it even better.


    1. janashe

      I had just finished ch 10 of Legacy earlier tonight and thought I would do a little more JA and ta-da got Rats! so if the creepy chapter you wrote today is 11 of Legacy, I’m not sure what I’m going to do when it is posted!


  5. Robin Helm Post author

    It was chapter 16 of Legacy. I write at least 5 or 6 chapters ahead of posting to give the betas time, and to give myself the chance to rewrite and change whatever needs adjustment.

    There are no critters in chapter 16. I’m just unleashing Gregory for the second half of the book. He is definitely the antagonist. No angst between D & E, but plenty involving Gregory.

    I take that back. There is a critter in chapter 16, but it’s not a rat. Blame Gayle for it. She pitched the idea to me on Sunday, and it took root and grew.


  6. pat webber

    I don’t live in the KEYS, but in west central Florida . Guess what? I went on line tonight, to find out just what kind of rat, was under my grill cover earlier this evening.It like to scared the bee-gees out of me. It was just like the picture of the guy, that had that thing up on his shoulder. At first glance i thought it was a big disfigured squirrel because of its color and elongated nose and white on the belly, but then i saw its tail . OH MAN, I CAN TELL YOU, THAT THING GIVES ME THE CREEPS!!! I thought citrus rats were bad. Thanks for the information, to the guy with that thing on his shoulder. Sorry to see the KEYS have shared they,re critters.


    1. Robin Helm Post author

      Wow! I would have passed out. I lived in Fort Lauderdale for 6 years and Palatka for 8 years. I saw some crazy stuff down there.

      I hope you don’t have any trouble!



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