More Hand-Wringing from Florida: Gambian Pouched Rats

The latest animal invasion reported from Florida has been launched by the dreaded Gambian pouched rat. Surely a big rodent is no problem if you have plenty of pythons on hand?

Giant, nine-pound Gambian rats invading Florida Keys | The Sideshow - Yahoo! News:

"Gambian pouched rats are the largest known breed of rats in the world. They can grow up to three feet in length and weigh as much as nine pounds. Wildlife officials fear that if the large-sized rodents make it to the Florida mainland, they could devastate local crops if they reach the Florida mainland.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working with Florida officials to wipe out the rodents, and there are only an estimate few dozen at large, but they can reproduce quickly and do so only five months after being born. "


  1. I think they were said to attack and eat babies in Africa recently, weren´t they?

  2. I hadn't heard that. Makes the whole story a bit more interesting.

  3. Here's a news story about rats, possibly this kind, killing babies and an elderly woman:

  4. I'm a bit skeptical, though, as the source is the sensationalistic Daily Mail and the behavior mentioned is classic Norway rat.

  5. An old friend of mine--the guy who actually gave me a lot of help and encouragement in the reptile hobby, actually--used to keep Gambians as educational animals. He generally considered them, on balance, less aggressive than brown/Norway rats...I'm unclear if that was supposed to take in domestic rats as well as wild, but I do recall his Gambian female, whom I met at close range. She was a shy, gentle animal much more akin to a giant deer mouse than to the rats we're used to. Sadly, nobody seemed to think to captive-breed them before importation ceased in the early 2000's. As far as the child-killing potential of these guys...well, obviously practically any animal that eats meat and is above the size of a mouse could take a human baby; I've run across accounts of everything from crows to Nile monitors to foxes attacking unattended infants. But given the Norway rat's aggressive nature and fondness for meat, I'd tend to favor it as the culprit. Other possible suspects include the roof rat (formerly known as the "black rat", until it was discovered brown ones were just as common as black!) and possibly the Indian bandicoot (jumped ship in Africa, but I'll be dipped if I can remember where...)

  6. Crows? do you remember where you read that? That's a new one on me.

    Somewhere in my files I have a serious bandicoot attack on an adult, though I can't seem to lay hands on it at the moment.

  7. I can't recollect where, exactly; I do remember that it took me a little by surprise too, in spite of what I know about crows and some of the things I've seen and heard of them doing. It was less than a paragraph, I recall that much, and seemed to indicate such instances were not a phenomenon of the modern world but seemed too widely-attested in older sources to dismiss.

    Attacks may have occurred, I suppose, in an agrarian society where the baby might be left alone while Mom helped Dad in the field, or where--as was all too often the custom in earlier, harsher times even in Western Europe--an unwanted baby might be abandoned because of poverty, superstition, etc. Crows--including the raven--are known to attack and kill seal pups, fawns, and lambs; they would certainly be more than equal to the task of dispatching a human baby.

  8. That's fascinating. I'm a great fan of crows (despite this baby-eating thing:)).


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