Mystery rodent spotted in Lunenburg

[singlepic=112,220,,,right]What appears to be a Capybara has been spotted in Lunenburg (believe the spelling is correct?), Massachusetts.

The McDonald family first heard their basset hound “yappinging up a storm”, and when they went to investigate, a large rodent was seen coming out of the woods.

Mr McDonald said “I thought it was an overgrown woodchuck,”. But Mr McDonald’s wife, who watches “The Crocodile Hunter” on cable TV every night, easily identified the animal.

It is believed the Capybara is from a nearby farm and had was thought to have escaped earlier in the week.

Residents spot mysterious rodent

It was turning out to be a normal, quiet night at the McDonald household on Tuesday, until the family’s basset hound started yapping up a storm in the backyard, a family member said.

“The dog was barking in back,'” said Nicholas McDonald of 1065 Northfield Road. “And I saw this weird thing come out of the woods … It looked like a huge rat.”

The animal was probably a capybara, a large rodent native to the jungles of Central and South America, according to Bridget McAlice, a Mass Wildlife biologist.

“We’ve seen a picture, but we haven’t seen it ourselves,” McAlice said. “But it looks very similar to a capybara.”

Nicholas McDonald’s father, Frank, and mother, Deborah, photographed the animal, Frank McDonald said.

McAlice said capybaras can grow up to three feet in length and two feet in height at the shoulders. The rodents can weigh up to 140 pounds, McAlice said.

The rodent should not pose any threat to people, according to McAlice.

“I would just think of them as you do beavers. They eat grasses and bark,” McAlice said. “They pose no danger to people.”

Frank McDonald said the rodent came onto his property Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., crossed his lawn, and hung around a small pond they have, eating greenery for 45 minutes to an hour.

It left just before the police arrived, the older McDonald said.

“I thought it was an overgrown woodchuck,” he said.

McDonald said his wife watches “The Crocodile Hunter” on cable TV every night and easily identified the animal.

Heron, deer, foxes, ducks, turtles, coyotes and even the occasional moose come around the area, according to Frank McDonald. But he said he has never seen anything like the animal he spotted Tuesday night.

McAlice did say residents should use their best judgment and shouldn’t “throw rocks” at the animal.

She said capybaras usually stay around wetlands. Frank McDonald said there is a large pond near his house.

The rodent is not adapted to winter climates and its fur is too thin to keep it warm, so it would perish in the snow, McAlice said.

Massachusetts residents need a permit to keep a capybara as a pet, McAlice said.

Wildlife officials will try to trap the capybara if and when it is spotted again, McAlice said. She said citizens should call the police when they see it.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed,” said Lt. James Marino of the Lunenburg police. “We’ll check out any reports.”

Source, Sentinel and Enterprise [link].

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One Response

  1. Melissa
    August 28, 2006

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