Saturday 17 February 2018

'Mutant 3-foot-rat' causes chaos as it runs amok on college campus

A coypu living in the wide
Credit: PA
A coypu living in the wide Credit: PA

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Students from a medical college in China were shocked to see what they thought was a three-foot-long mutant rat on the loose on their college campus.

Four security guards, each armed with a giant green net, took several hours to finally catch the four legged creature at Wenzhou Medical College in Zhejiang province.

The People's Daily Online report that mass panic spread across the campus as rumours of the huge 'rat' travelled like wildfire.

However one teacher at the school calmly told students and reporters that the creature was actually a 'coypu', otherwise known as a giant river rat.

Read More: Ireland faces ‘plague of super rats over the winter months’

The rodents are originally native to South American and live in subtropical temperatures, but have recently been introduced to many parts of Asia.

Zhao Jianzhong, a security guard at the college said that the men were frightened as they had never seen a creature of this type before.

"Our first thought was to put it in a zoo, or hand it over to the animal protection organization," he said.

It was first reported by local media that the giant rodent was taken away by the security guards and eaten for dinner.

Thankfully this story later turned out to be false.

As the college is a medical school, which often conducts tests on rats and mice, some people thought the giant rat had mutated and escaped from the animal testing laboratories.

An unnamed lab teacher from the college believes it may have been raised as a pet when it was smaller, but it became too big for its owner to keep.

"Their teeth are very powerful, and can easily snap a wooden cage, so maybe the family became frightened and had to let it go.

"It was eventually sent to a local wild animal protection organisation yesterday morning, where it will be living," he said.

Coypu's are commonly eaten in China, their meat is said to be lean and low in cholesterol.

They are available to buy from Chinese meat markets, and are sold online for meat purposes on Tabao, China's equivalent to eBay, ranging from 100-700 Yuan (€14 - €100).

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