Society

Giant Rats Overrun Florida Keys

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​Florida has had a rough go of it over the last few years, at least as far as non-native species are concerned.

First it was the Burmese pythons in the Everglades. These giant Asian snakes wrecked their fair share of havoc on the local ecosystem, but a new threat has them edged out in terms of sheer "ick" factor.

Giant Gambian pouched rats (pictured below) have made their way into the wilds of Grassy Key, Florida, and all signs suggest that they're breeding. In the past year, 20 of the invasive rodents, which can weigh up to nine pounds, have been trapped in the wild.

This isn't the first time the disgusting pests have been sighted in the United States. Gambian pouched rats have been killed in Brooklyn, New York  -- second picture below -- and on a previous occasion in the Florida Keys. In 1999 Grassy Key experienced a similar invasion, but since then wildlife officials thought all the giant rats had been eradicated.
 
No such luck.
 
The current invasion is thought have been started by a private breeder who released some of his stock into the environment. Though experts insist they pose little threat to adults, this species is credited with devouring two infants in South Africa last year.