While birding at Ollie's Pond in Port Charlotte (FL) we saw a juvenile Roof Rat (Rattus rattus) jump out of a shorefront Cabbage Palm and swim away! Very unusual behavior.....one hardly ever sees rats in the wild, let alone one swimming!
Depicted below, by the Univ of Florida Extension Service as a horrible beast, these rodents are harmless in the wild and part of the ecosystem fauna.
AHA! We soon found the cause of the rat's panicked escape! A Yellow Rat Snake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) climbing the palm and looking for a meal.
Higher in the palm, we spotted a large rat....perhaps a parent to the swimmer. Looking a bit too large for the snake, it seemed to exhibit a fearful expression and held it's ground.....maybe to protect other young in the nest.
Nature's small drama is life or death for the young rats....or starvation for the snake. Let us just observe and not judge or intrude.