Aug. 2, 2011 at 8:39amInvasion of the Black Rats

in northeast India

Why do huge swarms of rats overrun a bamboo forest in northeast India once every half-century? Hmmm. I can’t say I have the answer to that one right on the tip of my tongue.

Not just rats but black rats, that appear to spring from nowhere to spread destruction and famine in their wake. What the heck you say? Me too.

Apparently bamboo forests in part of northeast India go into “exuberant flowering” … followed by the plague of rats. And lucky us – NOVA and National Geographic have captured this ordeal in vivid detail and the show is scheduled to run Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. 

I actually watched the video online and I have to say it was fascinating. I only had to look away once!

Probably the most interesting comment I heard was from an Australian scientist there to study the phenomena. He said "I love rats,I can't get enough of them." Apparently the rat infestation occurs after the flowering of the bamboo trees -- which also occurs every 48 years. After the black rats have eaten all the bamboo fruit they can stomach, they erupt from the ground, overrun the fields and eat everything else in sight. And everything else includes all the rice that typically feeds villagers for the upcoming year. 

This film represents the first time anyone has documented the the black rat infestation. Be sure to watch this fascinating show Wednesday night at 8 p.m on KSPS. After all, it only happens every 48 years. 
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