Anyone else getting "Rodents of Unusual Size" vibes?
Yes, that is right folks, giant swamp rats have overrun the Krauss Baker Park in Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports a large swarm of the rats in the park and blames visitors for feeding them and leaving food around.
Photographs of the swarm started making the rounds on social media and the "Rodents of Unusual Size" (ROUS) look like they came right off the set of The Princess Bride! The official term for these large and terrifying rodents is nutria (or coypu), and they normally live along the Texas coastline, in swamps, ponds, marshes, and are considered an invasive species. Native to South America, the species was brought over by fur farmers who sold the giant rats to farmers as vegetation control.
Urban Wildlife Biologist Rachel Richter says the population at Krauss Baker Park is enormous. The rodents eat up to a quarter of their body weight and breed a lot; females have been known to have up to three litters (up to 200 babies!) each year. The animals can drive out the native species and have a negative impact on local ecosystems when they take over burrowing into banks and contaminating bodies of water.
“The reason for the thriving population of nutria in Krauss Baker Park is that people are feeding them at this location. People generally mean well when they offer food to animals, but they don’t realize that they’re doing far more harm than good. Feeding wildlife is a huge problem that has negative impacts on our local ecosystems and often leads to human-wildlife conflict in our communities,” Richter said. “If not controlled, you end up with erosion, destabilized banks, decreased water quality, and a lot less of a habitat for native plants, animals, and fish.”
Yeah, I didn't have ROUS's on my 2020 bingo card. Anybody? https://t.co/JyPkVY0jeG— Ian Whetstone (@IanWhetstone) August 17, 2020
Who had giant swamp rats for August? https://t.co/TIlnMo0xwb— Vee Mus'e (@TheCraftingMuse) August 17, 2020
According to Richter, this specific colony likes cat food. Wildlife officials are monitoring the situation and will hopefully take action to control what is becoming a growing issue.
Have you ever seen one of these giant swamp rats? Share your story of survival with us in the comments.