This is how two men of Ninh Hiep Village, Hanoi’s Gia Lam District, catch rice field rats for food rich in protein.
The two men set up traps in rice fields to catch rats in early July after the land was plowed following the harvest season.
These traps have a serrated rim and a diameter of five to six centimeters, which are used to catch two types of field rats – vole and rhizomyinae.
Traps are placed in higher mounds near the fields, where rats often stay after the harvests. Villagers said that since field rats use only one path to go in and out of their holes, they would set up traps on that path that will clamp shut on the rats’ legs.
“June and November are the best months to catch field rats since they are fatter from eating rice. Across the fields, the villagers use dogs to sniff out the holes and dig them up. However, that method requires a lot of effort. Using the trap is more effective and less time-consuming,” Nguyen Son said as he looked for the path to lay his trap.
They mark where they’ve placed traps with colored cloth pieces.
The rat hunters come back after 7 p.m. to check on the traps since this is the time when rats leave their homes looking for food.
“The field rat has golden fur and bigger body. A mature one can weigh 300-500 grams. The house rat has black fur and a smaller body. Rat hunters will set up traps in rice fields far away from residential areas to avoid catching house rats,” said Nguyen Van Chien.
“I usually catch around 5-7 kilograms of field rats between 4 p.m -8 p.m.”
The fur and some unedible parts of the rats are removed before they are cooked.
Locals say they can make seven different dishes with rat meat, but the most popular ones are grilled, used in a hotpot, steamed with lime leaves or stir-fried with starfruit.