Grilled rats lucrative career for Sukhothai

Sornsak Ngernkhao grills Bandicoot rats to be sold at a fresh market near his home in Sukhothai’s Thung Sa Liam district. (Photos by Phubes Faithet)

SUKHOTHAI: Hunting Bandicoot rats in the rice fields – and then grilling them for sale as a rural delicacy – has become a regular income-earner during the last two months of the year for villagers in Thung Sa Liam district .

The villagers hunt the nu phook (Bandicoot rats) in adjacent Thoen district of Lampang province at night and then grill them before selling them in villages and fresh markets. The nocturnal hunt-and-barbeque activities generate substantial income since the rats sell for around 300 baht per kilogramme – a higher price than for beef and pork.

Sornsak Ngernkhao, 50, is a villager in tambon Thung Sa Liam who normally makes bird cages for a living. But during the cool nights of November and December, he and some friends venture out on rat hunts. After grilling, the ready-to-eat rats are then sold by Mr Sornsak’s mother in the fresh market.

He said rural villagers are so fond of the large Bandicoot rats that hunters are forced to travel as far as Thoen district to catch them. The group sets a bonfire in a rice field and hunts for the rats from 8pm until 3am, spending two nights in the fields before coming home with the main ingredient for the dish.

“Grilled rat is now sold at 300 baht a kilo, better than beef and pork, so I take a break from my regular job in order to go rat-catching. In only two months, I can earn 50,000 baht, since the price will rise to 500 baht a kilo towards the end of the year,” said Mr Sornsak.

The grilled rats are packed in plastic bags before being displayed for sale.

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