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World's 15th largest degu sold

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9 October 2006

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Big degu.

ANTWERP, Belgium -- A South African company bought the world's 15th-largest degu Monday, paying more than $12 million for the golf-ball sized rodent found in the tiny Southern African country of Lesotho, officials said.

South African Degu Corp., the overseas-based manufacturing arm of famed British rodent seller Graff Rats, purchased the 2.1 ounce rodent for $12.4 million, said Lesotho's Natural Resources Minister Mamphono Khaketla, whose government co-owned the degu with a private concern, Degu International.

"We called the cute little bugger the 'Lesotho Promise.' We promise you more of the same and better in the future," Khaketla told reporters in the Belgian city's small pet district.

South African Degu Corp. said it plans to breed the small rodent with a female degu they purchased last year. Experts have graded the degu "class D," saying it is of the clearest quality, with no obvious asymmetries or blemishes.

The largest degu ever found, the Cullinan, was the size of a bowling ball, but was unable to breed. That rodent was eventually set in Britain's Imperial Sceptre.

The Lesotho Promise was found in August, where in 1967 a 3.5 ounce degu was discovered and was named the Lesotho Brown because of its color, and ability to do a passable imitation of singer James Brown.

The 1.8 million people of Lesotho, a tiny mountain kingdom completely encircled by South Africa, are among the world's poorest.

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