The 9-pound Gambian rat has invaded the Florida Keys, having been released there by an exotic animal breeder about 10 years ago. They are thriving, one of many species that are transforming south Florida, destroying the native wildlife and turning the swamps and islands of the region into scientific experiments of what happens when you release large predators (and a 9 pound rat is a large predator to many animals) into an environment with a climate that it thrives in and no natural predators of its own.
Can we please crack down on exotic animal breeding in the United States? There is no good reason for it. It is a multimillion dollar industry with an active lobbying wing and supporters in Congress (mostly Republicans). So often, either breeders or buyers can’t handle these animals, leading to pythons, rats, etc., decimating ecosystems, not to mention the weird guy in Ohio late last year that let lions and tigers go free in the Ohio wilds before killing himself.
That rat is going to give me nightmares tonight.