Rat Management for Rural Communities in Bangladesh


Rodent Issues

Almost any agricultural crop can be attacked by rodents and they have a significant effect on people’s livelihoods in many ways, causing damage to rice and other crops; loss and contamination of stored rice; damage to buildings; contamination of food and water supplies; and damage to personal possessions, such as clothes, fishing nets and furniture. Rodent pests are not only a serious constraint to the agricultural production of many crops, but also to the health of people and livestock through the spread of communicable diseases. Rats are known carriers of more than 60 life-threatening diseases, including The Plague, Leptospirosis, Typhus and Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers.

Rodents are a problem for both rich and poor, individuals and communities, with disproportionately larger impacts on the rural and urban poor, who are least likely to possess the tools and knowledge to control rats effectively. Existing approaches to control rats are often based on the use of acute poisons. Misuse of these poisons is unfortunately common in many countries, including Bangladesh, posing a threat to human health, and also causing environmental contamination by killing non-target species such as predatory birds. Used correctly, rodenticides can be a highly effective tool. However, they are most appropriate in large-scale, intensive, high-value situations where safety and accuracy can be assured.

The numbers of rodent pests are increasing worldwide, and this is likely to continue with urbanisation and agricultural intensification. In Bangladesh, although some effective rodent control methods exist, their poor application and adaptation often results in treatment failures, leading to apathy and widespread acceptance of rodent pests in the environment. Without a good holistic understanding of rodent pest problems and the cost-benefits of rodent control, it can be difficult to convince people that control is achievable and leads to real benefits.

Previous research on ecologically-based rodent management developed appropriate rodent management methods that were shown to lower rodent populations and the damage caused in rural farming communities. The corner stone of the programme is community-wide intensive trapping of rats with snap traps as well as a number of environmental management options that lead to permanent reductions in rodent populations if they are adopted by a significant proportion of households.

The main activities of the project are:

1) Training and capacity building of institutions to adopt new learning into their development programmes and to then go on to train and assist rural communities
2) Training and capacity building of rural communities to learn essential knowledge about rodents, the damage they cause and how rodent management programmes must operate to be effective
3) Local production and marketing of new-design rat traps. Not all traps are the same with some trap designs being far more effective and durable
4) Communication and awareness raising to rural communities, the general public and policy makers
5) Influence national and stakeholder policies through making recommendations on how effective and sustainable rodent management can be delivered and by empowering communities to manage their own rat problems


Not all rat traps are the same. The Rat Management
for Rural Communities project will be assisting the manufacture of better traps which are more
sensitive, efficient, versatile and durable for
the Bangladesh market.

Rat damage to baskets and other personal
possessions can have major economic
impacts on poor families who need to
spend money on repairs to or
replacements of essential goods.












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Bandicota benegalensis, the common rice field rat of South Asia

Stored rice contaminated with rodent faeces

Livestock fodder haystacks raised above the ground to reduce the number of
rats living in them – a further benefit is shelter for poultry and goats

Proofing valuable coconut trees can prevent rats from climbing up and damaging the coconuts.

Simple modifications to traditional grain stores can prevent rodent access to on-farm stored rice, preventing loss, damage and contamination caused by rodent pests


Copyright © 2010
The Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich