Freshly-caught rats tops the menu of a Sunday market in Kumarikata village in Assam. They are boiled, skinned and then cooked in a spicy gravy flavored with salt, chili and ginger, which is considered a Sunday delicacy. The customers buy hundreds of freshly caught and skinned rats. Rat meat has become a valuable source of income for the poor, mostly tribals, who struggle to meet their needs working in Assam’s tea gardens. “The meat is mainly sourced from neighbouring Nalbari and Barpeta districts of Assam”, said a vendor.
Farmers say the region has seen growing numbers of rats in recent years. In the winter months when tea picking slumbers, the local farmers hunt the rats, weighing more than a kilogram each, at night during the harvesting season with traps made of bamboo, to prevent their fields from being damaged by the rodents that eat paddy and other crops. “We put traps in the fields as the rats eat people’s paddy,” Samba Soren, a rat vendor at Kumarikata, told AFP.
The traps are placed at the entrance of the rat-holes in the evening and the rodents are caught as they come out to scavenge. the market traders say they get between 10 kg and 20 kg a night.
A kilogram of rat meat is sold for about Rs. 200 similar to chicken and pork.