Ratsa Rruk, Hippie Buoy

A Gambian pouched rat preparing to invade Florida


Don’t you just love it when you serendipitously stumble over something that verifies an outrageous claim you’ve made earlier? Don’t you? I sure do. 

Well, here I am flogging the snake again. No, not that snake; I’m speaking of El hognose-io, as usual. Yada, yada, yada. Anyhow, to get us started, let’s take a little trip together, to a distant time and a distant place (cue in Twilight Zone music) …

It’s 1970-something and our youthful slacker, Mr. T, is taking a break from stressful urban living by mucking about in a small seaside town on the Florida panhandle. He’s supposed to be renovating a rundown bungalow together with his girlfriend of the time, but oddly enough ‘things’ seem to keep getting in the way of actual work. Yes, I know, it does sound awfully similar to the 2012 version of Mr. T, but never mind that just now.

Upon arriving in sunny Florida our man discovers a bunch of new and wonderful things, such as palm trees, multicolored lizards and countless open-air bars strewn along the sandy beaches like stars flung across the night sky. You know, those bars that have bathrooms with little wooden signs on the doors saying Buoys and Gulls. However, Mr. T also finds other things in the Sunshine State that are less than wonderful; he becomes acquainted with the Floridian rat. In his own words:

‘One thing that people usually don’t think about when you mention Florida are rats. But they should. The first time I saw a Floridian rat, I thought it was a small, shifty-looking dog. At the time it didn’t strike me as particularly odd, but after a while I came to realize that something was amiss. There was this disintegrating garage in the back yard of the bungalow; the damn thing seemed to be infested with these weird little dogs. Only then did it dawn on me that these creatures were indeed rats. When I asked the neighbor about them, a state trooper who didn’t appear to be too fond of me or my kind (surprise, surprise), he told me that they weren’t your everyday rats, they were Florida wharf rats.

“Round here, we call ‘em baby-snatchers,” he had sullenly informed me. “Ya gotta have nettin’ over yer baby carriage, else fer ya knows it, you ain’t got no baby no mo.”’

Indeed. So it was with a smile upon my face that I came over an article about giant Floridian rodents the other day. It was a piece from some sort of newsy webpage, The Sideshow, entitled ’Giant, 9-pound Gambian rats invading Florida Keys.’ Wowsers. A Mr. Pfeiffer informs us that …

… The rodents, officially known as the Gambian pouched rat, 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 rodents make it to the Florida mainland, they could devastate local crops.

Yeah, and if you’re not careful, they may eat your children as well. Take it from one who knows. So there it is; vindication once again. See, it is all true, right down to the rats! The fact that this particular story takes place in the Florida Keys (nowhere near the panhandle part) and that said humongous rats first made their appearence there anno 2000—after a bright local exotic animal breeder released eight of these behemoths into the wild—is irrelevant. I wrote about big rats in Florida in TBA and big rats in Florida there are.

* * *

Bonus stuff (for those who have read this far): Why did I write about gigantic rats in Florida in The Beauregarde Affair in the first place? To introduce you to my cat, Jimmy, that’s why. If you’re interested in cat stories—and who isn’t?—then follow this link for the tail of  Jimmy vs. The Killer Rats.


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