9 May 2006

UN to help Tuvalu fight rats

1:09 pm on 9 May 2006

The United Nations will give Tuvalu 200,000 US dollars to fight tree-leaping rats which endanger coconut crops.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says the black rats jump between palms and gnaw through the shells of young coconuts.

The rats -- whose scientific name is rattus rattus -- are also destroying the diet of the coconut crabs.

The FAO is bringing Tuvalu's rodent expert out of retirement to oversee its pesticide plan.

The agency will fill recycled pineapple cans with poisoned bait and dangle the cans above the ground.

The agency will also wrap the island's palm trunks in metal sheets, to keep rats from scurrying to the top.