Gambian Pouched Rat

March 27, 2012 by staff 

Gambian Pouched Rat, After extensive bait trapping and surveillance in 2007 and 2008, state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials thought the fight against Gambian giant pouch rats on Grassy Key was over.

The invasive exotic is an African species that can grow up to 9 pounds and reportedly appeared on Grassy Key sometime between 1999 and 2001, when they were released by a resident who had been breeding them.

“We thought we had them whipped as of 2009,” said Scott Hardin, exotic-species coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife. “In the early part of 2011, a resident e-mailed me and said he saw one of the rats. We were skeptical but went back and talked to people and [saw] there were rats that we missed.”

Hardin said trapping efforts began again in May last year and that pregnant females were found. More trapping was done in August and again during a 10-week period in November and December.

“We trapped about 20 since we started. I would not imagine there’s more than another couple of dozen at most. We’ve caught them all within a half-mile of each other,” Hardin said. “We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced. We are surveying the area and been taking pictures of rats ever since.”

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