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