Rat Attack

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Chapter 1
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A Force of Nature

In a remote village in northeast India, a plague of black rats suddenly appears and, over the course of three days, decimates the farmers' subsistence crops. As the stunned villagers try to cope, Australian rat expert Ken Aplin arrives with a local biologist to study the outbreak.
running time 9:46

Chapter 2
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Seeds of Disaster

The cause of the plague is a single species of bamboo that flowers en masse every 48 years, producing a bumper crop of nutritious seeds. When it does, the rat population explodes, as Aplin and his Indian colleague discover when they find the devastated fields crawling with rats.
running time 7:35

Chapter 3
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A Most Versatile Plant

While the bamboo's once-a-half-century fruiting is disastrous for the farmers, the rest of the time the plant serves myriad purposes, from food to building material to the very substructure that holds the region's soil in place. It even helped prime chickens and pigs to become domesticated, as ecologist Dan Janzen explains.
running time 8:11

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A Frenzy of Hyper-Breeding

In 1959, the last time the mass flowering happened, a famine engulfed the region, killing thousands. The residents of a second village Aplin visits wonder: Could the same happen again? Even as they prepare for an attack, Ken Aplin, reaching into burrow after burrow, discovers that a breeding frenzy is under way.
running time 7:15

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Explosion Imminent

After several rat breeding pulses fed by the bamboo fruit, Aplin suspects the next pulse to hit the second village's fields will create a ravenous army of close to 12,000 rats. The question is, can the farmers get the harvest in before the pulse occurs?
running time 7:52

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Dodging a Bullet—And Not

Two villages, two entirely different outcomes. All is based on the timing of the mass bamboo fruiting, a phenomenon that remains largely a mystery to scientists. Aplin hopes his research will shed light on the mystery as well as help farmers better prepare for the next onslaught—48 years from now.
running time 8:44

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© | Created February 2009