Nova: Plague of Rats (every 48-years) wrote:Once every 48 years, forests of the bamboo known as Melocanna baccifera go into exuberant flower in parts of northeast India. And then, like clockwork, the event is invariably followed by a plague of black rats that spring from nowhere to spread destruction and famine in their wake. For the first time on film, NOVA and National Geographic capture this massive rat population explosion in the kind of vivid detail not possible in 1959, when the last invasion occurred.
KEN APLIN: ...rat burrows going down here. There's a big one down this side. This one's got nest...old nest material in there; underneath the surface here, I think.
This field blows me away.
We've got a rat burrow on the surface, maybe one every yard, and that's what? Two, three thousand rats per acre?
And we add to that all rats that would have been living up in their leaf nests, up in the trees, in the bushes, in the bamboo, we may be looking at something like 10,000 rats per acre or more.
Now that's a number that is off the scale. I've never heard of that sort of rat density in forests, in rice fields, any kind of habitat anywhere in the world.
When was the main period of damage in the field?
NARRATOR: By interviewing the farmers who were hit last year, Ken is trying to establish a timeline, from when the bamboo fruit appeared to when the rats ravaged the fields.
It seems to take about six months until the rats attack.
Over the course of three nights, as the villagers sleep, rats erupt out of the ground by the thousands, overrun the fields and eat everything in sight.
This year, there won't be a harvest.
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