Athletes who played the first rounds of Olympic golf in 112 years were warned of the native wildlife they might come across during the competition. Luckily, none have been harmed by the sloths, owls, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys or “mega rats” that reside in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“It’s a good incentive to stay in the fairway,” Britain’s Justin Rose tells USA Today Sports. “The coolest thing to me is that mega rat that lives out here. I saw him on the fifth hole, the par 5.”
The “mega rat” the golfer is referring to is actually a capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) — which just so happens to be the the largest rodent in the world, standing up to 2 ft. tall and weighing up to 150 lbs. Mark Johnson, director of international agronomy for the PGA Tour, told the National Post that there are about 30 to 40 of the rodents inside the course’s perimeter.
Other native wildlife in the area of the Olympic Golf Course include the brown-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus), corujas burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), boa constrictor (Boa constrictor), crocodilian yacare caiman and Mico monkey. Some of the burrowing owls have even made a few bunkers their new home and have been seen throughout play.
Although some golfers aren’t competing in Rio in lieu of the Zika virus outbreak spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which was first reported in Brazil in early 2015, none of the Olympic golfers have so far reported being pestered by mosquitoes, according to Golf Digest.
In March, the Entomological Society of America and Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil hosted the Summit on the Aedes aegypti Crisis in the Americas in the city of Maceió in Alagoas, Brazil, to discuss the issue.
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