Deadly rat infestation in trenches of Ukraine

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The frontlines of Russia’s war in Ukraine have become infested with rats and mice, reportedly spreading disease that causes soldiers to vomit and bleed from their eyes, crippling combat capability and recreating the gruesome conditions that plagued troops in the trench warfare of World War I.

A Ukrainian servicewoman, who goes by the call-sign “Kira,” recalled how her battalion was beset last fall by a “mouse epidemic” while fighting in as the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

“Imagine going to bed, and the night begins with a mouse crawling into your pants or sweater, or chewing your fingertips, or biting your hand. You get two or three hours’ sleep, depending on how lucky you are,” Kira told CNN. She estimated there were around 1,000 mice in her dugout of four soldiers. “It was not the mice who were visiting us; we were their guests.”

The infestations are due partly to the change in seasons and mice’s mating cycle, but are also a measure of how the war has become static, after Ukraine’s counteroffensive was largely rebuffed by heavily fortified Russian defenses. Amid another harsh winter, mice are foraging along the nearly 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) frontline, spreading disease and dissatisfaction as they search for food and warmth.

Kira said she tried everything to rid their bunkers of mice: sprinkling poison, spraying ammonia, even praying. Nearby shops stocked up on anti-mouse products and made a killing, she said. But, as the mice kept coming, they tried other methods.

“We had a cat named Busia, and at first she also helped and ate mice. But later there were so many of them that she refused. A cat can catch one or two mice, but if there are 70 of them, it’s unrealistic.”

Videos shared on social media by Ukrainian and Russian soldiers showed the extent of the infestations on the frontlines. Mice and rats are seen scurrying around under beds, in backpacks, power generators, coat pockets and pillowcases. One shows mice pouring forth from a Russian mortar turret like bullets from a Browning.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!