Plant that eats rats


Lunch ... rat in the plant named after David Attenborough

Lunch ... rat in the plant named
after David Attenborough

Stewart McPherson.

A DEADLY plant that eats RATS has been discovered by British experts.

The giant pitcher plant - believed to be the largest meat-eating shrub - lures rodents into its slipper-shaped mouth and dissolves them with acid-like enzymes.

Boffins have named the incredibly rare species after legendary wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. It is a real-world version of the flesh-eating plant called Audrey nurtured by a florist in the 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors.

Scientists led by botanists Stewart McPherson and Alastair Robinson tracked it down on Mount Victoria in the Philippines after hearing that missionaries had seen "whole rats" being eaten. Mr McPherson, of Poole, Dorset, said yesterday: "The plant produces spectacular traps which catch not only insects, but also rodents.

"It is remarkable that it remained undiscovered until the 21st century.

"My team and I named it in honour of Sir David whose work has inspired generations toward a better understanding of the beauty and diversity of the natural world."

The plant - now dubbed Nepenthes attenboroughii - is green and red and can grow a stem more than 4ft long. It is found only in the scrub high on the windswept slopes of Mount Victoria.

Mr McPherson and former Cambridge University botanist Mr Robinson made their discovery during an expedition in 2007.

But they have only just described the killer shrub in a journal after a three-year study of all 120 species of pitcher plant.


Sir David, 83, said last night: "I was contacted by the team shortly after the discovery and they asked if they could name it after me. I was delighted and told them, 'Thank you very much'.

"I'm absolutely flattered. This is a remarkable species the largest of its kind.

"I'm told it can catch rats then eat them with its digestive enzymes. It's certainly capable of that."

Sir David already has a giant marine dinosaur, wasp and rare tree named after him.