It's a quiet late summer night in an Anchorage neighborhood. A truck sits in the driveway of a house, and suddenly there's movement in the shadow. A big rat with a long tail scurries from the shadow of the house, pauses for a moment in the driveway, then scurries under the truck. The scene was captured on a home security video camera, and the footage was provided to Fish and Game via the department's online reporting website - which also provides an email and phone contact to report sightings or rats and other invasive critters. Photos are helpful, and better yet, kill the rat and freeze it, and give it to Fish and game.
Rats are not well-established in Anchorage, and to help keep it that way, it is illegal to keep pet rats in the city. Biologists think the critter in the video was likely a muskrat - and that's a good thing. Muskrats are native to Alaska, and Norway or brown rats are invasive. Norway rats aren't Norwegian, they're from the Asian steppes and as people spread across the globe, rodents tagged along. Rats and mice are responsible for billions of dollars of damage worldwide each year. They eat and contaminate vast quantities of crops, food and livestock feed, chew through communication and electrical lines, and spread a variety of diseases to humans, livestock and wildlife. Fish and Game is working to minimize the spread of rats in Alaska.