Date of this Version
Pages 131-134 In: Veitch, C. R.; Clout, M. N. and Towns, D. R. (eds.). 2011. Island invasives: eradication and management. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
Gambian giant pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus) are native to Africa, but they are popular pets in the United States. They caused a monkeypox outbreak in the Midwestern United States in 2003 in which 72 people were infected. A free-ranging population became established on the 400 ha Grassy Key in the Florida Keys, apparently after a release by a pet breeder. This rodent species is known to cause extensive crop damage in Africa and if it reaches the mainland US, many impacts, especially to the agriculture industry of Florida, can be expected. An apparently successful inter-agency eradication effort has run for just over three years. We discuss the strategy that has been employed and some of the difficulties encountered, especially our inability to ensure that every animal could be put at risk, which is one of the prime pre-requisites for successful eradication. We also discuss some of the recent research with rodenticides and attractants, using captive Gambian rats, that may help with future control and eradication efforts.