Housing Authority worker Jose Rivera went beyond his job description when he killed a giant rat with a pitchfork at Marcy Houses, a public housing complex in New York City. The monster rodent appears is about three feet long, including its creepy dangling tail.
Rivera says that this creature is not the only one. He claims that he saw three while filling a rat hole, but he was only able to nail one: "I hit it one time and it was still moving. I hit it another time and that's when it died. I'm not scared of rats but I was scared of being bitten."
(Photo by BlackandBrownNews.com)
Naomi Colon, head of the Marcy Houses Tenant Association, confirmed the giant rat sightings: "The residents have told me that they've seen it running around with other rats. She lived with them. She ran into the same hole they ran in."
Animal experts say the rodent (pictured above) is a Gambian pouched rat, a common pet rat. These types of rats can grow to three feet and four pounds (or more). Imports of the rats have been banned since 2003, when they were cited for a monkeypox outbreak that sickened 100 people.
Dr. Paul Calle, director of zoological health at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the rat was probably an escaped or discarded pet, "They are a very social animal and live in big groups in the wild. Our Norway rats are the closest big rodents it could accompany. They can even be trained to sniff out landmines or even tuberculosis. They're pretty remarkable animals."
Residents say that even the local cats are scared of the giant rats. They fear that Gambian rats have been breeding with Norway rats to spawn a super-breed of rats, but Dr. Calle said that the imported rat probably wouldn't mate with local rats, and it couldn't reproduce if it did, because each is from a different genus.
The New York City Housing Authority had no comment.