Thanks to a reader, here is another of our occasional updates on the rattus rattus situation in mainland southeast Asia. IRIN News reports that owls are being recruited to the fight against rats in northern Laos. As in other parts of the region, bamboo flowering is blamed for high rat numbers:

Experts attribute the unusually large number of rodents to bamboo flowering: As the availability of bamboo seeds – a popular food for rats – increases, so too does the rats’ fertility. Rattus rattus, the rat responsible for the outbreak, has decimated rice crops in many villages. Seventy-four percent of interviewed households reported 50-100 percent losses; 100 percent rice losses were common, the WFP survey said. “I’ve lost about a third of my total paddy rice crop and 80 percent of my entire upland rice crop,” Bounfaeng Leukai, a villager in Xay District said, describing the situation as the worst he has seen in more than two decades. “Seventy to 80 percent of my other crops – sesame and maize – are also gone,” he said.