For more than a century, ever since humans introduced them to the Galapagos, rats have ruled Pinzón Island. Just one year ago, 180 million rats lived on this island, hardly seven square miles of land. And because the rats were so hungry for turtle eggs and turtle hatchlings, for years the native giant tortoises — a subspecies called Chelonoidis nigra duncanensis — had to breed in captivity and were considered extinct in the wild.
But now, John R. Platt reports at Scientific American, 118 juvenile tortoises have been let free on the island. And they may just survive — because the rats are gone.
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