And I thought I had it bad with 9 rats last year! Apparently my recurring nightmare about an apocalyptic rat invasion has, in fact, become reality in my former home of Hunan Province. (This article calls them "mice," but other articles tell it like it is...)
The devastating flood damages (rats included) in Hunan and other parts of central China this past summer are no laughing matter.
Way to go, Three Gorges Dam.
Excerpts from the LA Times:
Two billion voracious rodents have descended on farms in Hunan province. Villagers retaliate with clubs, traps and poison.
By Don Lee
Times Staff Writer
July 16, 2007
BEIZHOUZI, CHINA — The worst summer flooding in years has claimed more than 400 lives and wreaked billions of dollars in damage in central China. Here in the villages around Dongting Lake, rising waters have brought a plague of biblical proportions: an invasion of 2 billion mice.
..."They are like troops advancing," farmer Zhang Luo said Sunday, recounting how he whacked hundreds with a shovel. Zhang, 40, and his forebears have battled mice for 100 years in this area, but he said it had never been this bad. A stench rose from the dead rodents in his fields.
..."If the Three Gorges Dam needs to open its gate to release floodwaters again, it's possible that they might come back. That's why we have people patrol … day and night these days."
...Xu Kai, 14, recalled standing on the second-floor balcony of his house in the town of Beizhouzi and watching in horror as the green and brown slopes 150 yards away turned black. As the mice moved toward his family's farmland, Xu ran out with others and grabbed a thick piece of bamboo. He said he struck the mice until his shoulders hurt, killing three or four with each blow.
On Sunday, he and his grandmother looked out from the balcony and tallied the devastation.
Half the corn crops were destroyed. All the watermelons were lost. The mice had eaten much of the eggplant and other vegetables.
His grandmother, Chen Lianxi, 62, pointed to the thick cotton fields. She said they were a virtual cemetery for the mice the family had killed.
Chen said her family of five lived on their crops, earning about $1,200 last year. About a quarter of that went toward school tuition and expenses for Xu. Some was used to pay off a loan to neighbors for the two-story tile house that the family built 10 years ago for $6,000.
Money is one thing, she said. Chen fears for her grandson's health.
"That's what I don't know," she said. "There are dead mice everywhere."