Monday, May 28, 2007

Rat Trap

Perhaps some of you have seen the story currently making the rounds about giant rats invading the Florida Keys. The ISW first posted about the Gambian pouch rats (Cricetomys gambianus) in Grassy Key back in 2005, and then again when the eradication program began in 2006. Now Yahoo! News and others are reporting that the eradication program is entering its last phase. Wildlife officials are out in Grassy Key setting traps using peanut butter mixed with almond extract and anise. Sounds pretty yummy until the part about the poison zinc phosphide.

The really interesting story here is not about the pouch rats, which are old news, but about this eradication project holding up other invasive species control projects, in particular the feral cat problem plaguing Big Pine Key. Because the cats are threatening the endangered Lower Keys rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri), there are plans to remove the cats from the island, but with resources low, animal rights activists are turning to Hugh Hefner for help. Yes, you read that right: Hugh Hefner. Check out that scientific name - turns out Hef took an interest in protecting the rabbits and they are now named after him. Frank Cerabino at the Palm Beach Post has the full story.


Anonymous said...

What a story! Any way, I loathe rats; the only animals I do so. Is Hefner's interest in the rabbits got any thing to do with 'bunnies'? Or is it just a publicity stunt?

Jennifer Forman Orth said...

Umm..."Yes" and "Yes" :)