for Lunch? Roasted Rats.
In the countryside,
large rodents have become a cash crop
A vendor sells roasted rats beside the Bang Pa-in-Bang Bua Thong highway.
A Suphan Buri farmer,(below picture), shows a wooden trap to catch pig rats in his paddy
field, which sometimes catch snakes (below picture) as well which mean more
money for the farmer. —
It doesn't matter if they are truck drivers or behind the wheel of a
Mercedes Benz. Once they are on the road from Pathum Thani to Suphan Buri, they
know where to stop.
Along the side of that road are about 100 small bamboo shelters selling
roasted paddy rodents, or pig rats. These small businesses have been growing
rapidly to cater to the high demand from clients, regardless of their incomes.
"My customers come from everywhere - from truck drivers to Mercedes Benz
drivers. I even get foreign tourists during the holidays. I think they are happy
with the delicious taste of my rats," said Sompong Malapong, a 52-year-old who
has been selling roasted paddy rats on the side of the road for the past three
Despite the expensive price of 120-160 baht per kilogram -about US$ 4.70,
the roasted rats sold on this road sell like hot cakes.
Mr Sompong is very happy to make a daily net profit of about 2,000 baht
from selling 50 kilogrammes of his product, which are caught in paddy fields in
several districts including Muang, Bang Plama, Bang Li and Don Chedi in this
central province. "Many villagers catch rats and make good money," he added.
One of the 100 villages where local people make their living from the rat trade
is Ban Don Chan in Muang district.
Boonchom Klakondee, a
46-year-old farmer from Don Chan village who has been an
expert rat catcher since he was young, said his
now earns more than 10,000 baht a month selling rats to
invest nothing, only our energy, and place more than 200
wooden-made traps in front of the rat holes in the paddy fields.
Then we have to be patient and pray. If luck is on our side, I
can get snakes. The price for them is very expensive," he said.
Boonchom can catch more than 20 rats per day, each weighing
between 700 and 800 grammes. He and his son-in-law place their
wooden traps in the paddy fields late in the morning and leave
them there overnight. Then they return to count the trapped
animals early the next morning.
Boonchom explained that his job needs skill, and catchers
have to understand the nature of the rats. Catchers have to know
if the rat holes are occupied or vacant, he said. One of the
things he looks for, he added, is footprints around the holes.
"Of course, we have to put the traps in front of the holes that
are still active, not the deserted ones," he said.
Eat the rats -
wooden-made traps in front of the rat holes
But rats are not stupid,
he said. They are very smart and know how to survive
threats from humans, he added.
The animals, he said, defuse the deadly traps by
throwing small pieces of soil into the traps to clear
them before going out to forage in the rice field.
Despite the booming
business, Mr Boonchom said he is confident that
there are more rats to catch because the province still
has plentiful paddy fields and water.
Sompote Srikosamat, of
Mahidol University's faculty of sciences, said the
population of pig rats, or bandicoots in scientific
jargon, in Suphan Buri had sharply increased due to the
rapid expansion of paddy fields, which is an ideal food
source for the rats.
The steady decrease of snakes, which eat rats, due to
the changing environment, and hunting, had also allowed
the pig rats to dominate the fields, said the biologist.
"I don't think the
massive hunting of the rat will cause any adverse impact
to the ecological system because, with the absence
of its natural predators like snakes, the practice will
help control the population," said Mr Sompote.
Although people selling the
cooked rats claim they taste delicious, the Public
Health Ministry has cautioned the public about their
Ministry spokesman Sa-nga
Damapong voiced concern about the sanitation of the
roasted rats. The danger comes from the use of
pesticides, chemicals and fertilizer by farmers, he
added. Roasted rats could give people diarrhoea if they
are not properly cooked, he said.
"The rats have similar
nutrients like pork and chicken, but less calories."
"If you want to eat them, please make sure that they are
well cooked to avoid the problem of getting diarrhoea,"
Story by APINYA WIPATAYOTIN
Bankok Post Newspaper,
Photos by SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
The natural extension is
to download our unique e-book on
southern Thailand where you will find much more content and a lot of
exiting full scale pictures. You can have a look on the screen and if
you like you can print all content on any desktop printer, ...more
Eating rats in Thailand,
barbecued rat, barbecued
rat, barbecued recipes, bbq rat, rat grilled,
Chinese eating rats,
delicious rat recipe,
Thai eating rats,
eat the rat