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News Clippings

Reuters November 16th 1998

Snakes Helping Thai Rice Farmers Win War On Rats

BANGKOK - Hundreds of snakes are helping out Thai rice farmers in northern Ayutthaya province by eating hordes of rats that have invaded their fields and ravaged grain.
Three months ago, a government-owned snake farm released into the fields about 450 non-venomous snakes of a kind sometimes found there following pleas from area farmers to help them get rid of the rats.

The farmers claim millions of rodents in the fields have eaten nearly half of their paddy production.

Also, about 22 Thai farmers have died from leptospirosis, a disease that develops from a virus in rat urine and causes infection on close contact. Hundreds of other people have fallen ill from the disease.

Now the farmers are claiming an early success in their war against the rats.

"Each villager used to catch about 100 rats per day from the rice fields. But after the snake were released into the area only six or seven rats have been caught," said Anan Nongkrajok, the headman of Klongnoi village in the Baanpeh district.

"Having snakes eat rats in rice fields is the natural way of balancing ecology," said Montri Chiobamroongkiat, a veterinarian at the snake farm who initiated the project.

He told Reuters the snakes released into rice fields in the Ayutthaya area could consume more than 18 million rats per year.

"I would like to appeal to the villagers to refrain from killing or eating the snakes. They will decrease damage to the rice fields, halt the spread of leptospirosis and help balance the ecology," he said.

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