A giant rat weighing five kilograms (11 pounds) was reportedly caught and killed recently in a village in Shaoyang county, located in Hunan province in China. The giant rat had been seen around the village and at the local pond feasting on fish, and villagers had set up a neighborhood watch at the pond.
On Sept. 25, several villagers were investigating the pond when they saw the large rat dive into the water and snatch a fish that weighed around three kilograms (just over six pounds), reports Sanxiang Metropolis Daily. The paper reported that the “king rat,” a male, measured 90 centimeters (35 inches) in length and weighed in at five kilograms, or 11 pounds. An 80-year-old village resident said he had never seen such a large rat.
The rat was eventually cornered and killed with farm tools. It is unclear how the animal grew to such an enormous size, but speculation runs from environmental changes to a foreign species of rat, perhaps from the United States, that made its way to China.
After killing the rat, the villagers spent the whole night preparing and cooking it, with some difficulty. According to Sanxiang Daily, the rat had such hard bones that the villagers broke two cleavers in the process.
The rat's fish-eating would seem to rule it out as a coypu, or nutria, a species introduced to China in the 1960s that can grow to a similar size but are herbivores. Other rodents known to eat fish are native to South America but are much smaller than the one captured in China. The second large rodent that was seen by the villagers remains at large.