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VIDEO: Meet Rodney, the three-foot long giant rat found swimming in Irish river

A three-foot long rat has been swimming in an Irish river for the past fortnight, and its looking for a good home.

The rat, which is three times the size of the average Irish rodent, is the first of its kind to have ever been found in Ireland.

The rodent has been identified as a Coypu American swamp rat, is native only to South America and wildlife experts believe it may have been brought here by a collector.

The Kildare Animal Foundation has been caring for newly-named 'Rodney' since it was spotted by a man walking along the river in Kilnascully, Tipperary last week.

And now the animal welfare crew are looking for a good home for the giant rodent.

"It's called a coytu, they're a semi aquatic rodent," Dan Donoher of the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit told RTE Radio One's John Murray show.

"He's not just an ordinary Irish rat, there's no fear there'll be an epidemic. 

"We're going to just hold in to him for a while and then we'll look for a permanent home for him.

"It would have to be a person with a specialised set-up that would have him - so he could live in a natural enough environment."

The rat is almost three foot long and he weighs about 6kg.

"It must have escaped or been released into the wild because ordinarily they would not be found here," he continued.

"It's the first one of its kind that anyone has ever heard of.

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"He doesn't have any fear in him so we think he must have been a pet. He's in good enough condition.

"He's not dangerous, he's used to human contact.

"We've been keeping out distance, he doesn't want to be handled in any way. We're used to animals here though, we care for over 100 at any one time so he's no danger to anyone here," he added.

Mr Donohue said the believe Rodney's  condition may have deteriorated for the couple of weeks he was in the wild.

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