First broadcast June 2005
For some, rats are a disease carrying pest. On the other hand, they have long been used to fight human problems.
And rats are also are regarded as a tasty source of protein in some cultures.
Mark Lewis builds up a portrait of the relationship between man and one of our oldest camp followers.
Part 2: East Africa
In East Africa, rats are a nuisance, eating crops and food. Most people are not aware that they also carry diseases like plague.
In mountainous Lushoto in Tanzania, where the disease is endemic, a community theatre group is spreading the message about the link between plague and rats, explaining that it is not spread through witchcraft.
We hear from young boys who hunt rats and their mothers who cook them in northern Mozambique, where villagers don't have much money to buy meat and where hunting is a strong tradition.
Unfortunately, eating rats (and letting them eat your food) helps to spread diseases including plague.
But the intelligence of rats is also being harnessed to help humans in Africa. We hear from trainers in Tanzania who are teaching giant African pouch rats to find landmines.
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