Researchers spot Florida's Sanibel Rice Rat for the first time in three years
POSTED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 10:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 10:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A rare rodent has resurfaced on Florida's Sanibel Island.
Each fall the team at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge uses traps in an effort to find the Sanibel rice rat, which is native to and only found on Sanibel Island.
Wildlife biologist Tara Wertz says the rats help to keep the environment balanced and the fact that two have been found is a good sign for wildlife on the island.
"We're all scratching our heads going, ‘OK, so many years and we haven't seen any. What's going on?'" she said. "Anything's exciting when you haven't seen it for a while."
She says the Sanibel rice rat is small, does not carry diseases and many people say it's cuter than other varieties of rats.
Wertz explained prescribed burns, like the one carried out in April, help to spur population growth.
Wertz and other biologists on the island will spend the next three weeks looking for more rice rats to study.