In what is surely one of the Sunshine State's proudest moments, rats the size of cats have invaded Florida. Folks, I wouldn't kid about such an important matter. The article included below provides all the shocking and horrifying details.
I am sure many of you will be traveling this holiday weekend and are likely Florida bound. As unnerving as this is, try not to worry. After all, cat-sized rats can't be that dangerous, right? I wonder if they purr? I'm sure if you hand over your wallet quietly, they will let you go on your way.
Florida tries to wipe out cat-sized African rats
Deep in the heart of the Florida Keys, wildlife officials are laying bait laced with poison to try to wipe out a colony of enormous African rats that could threaten crops and other animals.
U.S. federal and state officials are beginning the final phase of a two-year project to eradicate the Gambian pouched rats, which can grow to the size of a cat and began reproducing in the remote area about eight years ago.
"This is the only place in the United States where this is occurring," said Gary Witmer, a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.
"They don't belong here and they need to be controlled."
A former exotic pet breeder, living in a small house, bred the species and allowed the critters to escape.
Without eradication, wildlife officials fear the rats could eventually make their way onto the Florida mainland where they could quickly destroy fragile ecosystems.
"They could cause a lot of damage," Witmer said.
The Gambian rats "don't have any real friends, that we can tell," said Scott Hardin, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's exotic species coordinator.
The rats can weigh 6 to 9 pounds (2.7-4 kg), with body shades ranging from brown to gray. They have large ears, black, beady eyes, hamster-like pouched facial cheeks, sharp teeth and distinctive long, stringy and white-marked tails.