Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
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As the parents of an infant claimed last week that their son was killed by a rat bite at a hospital, ThePrint runs down the different times rodents wreaked havoc.

New Delhi: When an eight-day-old infant died in the intensive care unit of a government hospital at Darbhanga, Bihar, last week, his parents alleged he was killed by a rat bite.

The hospital authorities refuted the claim, saying the parents had mistaken an injection mark for a rat bite.

Death from rat bite fever is rare, and generally occurs when the symptoms go untreated, but the rodents continue to be identified as the most notorious pests of the animal kingdom.

This is because rats are obligated by nature to keep gnawing — their teeth continue to grow throughout their life, and chewing keeps them suitably worn down.

Also read: The rats can help you trace your lost keys and it’s good news for Alzheimer’s research

Even as the Darbhanga hospital investigates the infant’s death, ThePrint looks back at all the times rats have made headlines for some heavy-duty chewing, which has, at times, brought down entire buildings. However, we must admit that they appeared to have been framed on at least one occasion.

The prank robbers

One day this September, police in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, were on their toes as soon as they got word that the burglar’s alarm at a bank had been set off.

Much to their chagrin, police reached the spot only to find that no locks had been broken and no money stolen. As they scrambled to find who had set off the alarm, police spotted them: It was a pack of rats.

The wall-breakers

People were at a loss when a portion of the retaining wall of the Gill Chowk flyover in Ludhiana suddenly collapsed in May. A four-member inquiry set up to find the reason behind the collapse concluded that bad engineering was not to blame. They reportedly found a number of rat burrows near the collapse site.

The ‘gold-diggers’

Rats reportedly shredded Rs 12 lakh worth of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes at an ATM in Tinsukia, Assam, in 2018, having found their way inside the machine through an inlet meant for wires. Police found the photo of dead rat amid the shreds of cash, and the internet had a field day.

The ‘home-wreckers’

Near the Mankameshwar temple in Agra, many rodents lived happily in a three-floor building. That is, until they decided to topple it. A group of rats burrowed into the foundation, causing the building to collapse in April. The collapse was apparently captured on video.

The eye-eaters

Rats in a Mumbai hospital reportedly chewed off a comatose patient’s eye this April. The hospital authorities dismissed the allegations as a “conspiracy to malign the hospital”.

The drunkards

The rats of Bihar love nothing more than a generous tipple after a hard day’s gnawing, or so the authorities would have you believe.

The state went dry in 2015, and lakhs of litres have since been seized in Bihar.

When over 200 cans of seized beer stashed at an excise department store room were found empty this October, police blamed rats, pointing to the neat holes on the top of each can.

A similar story was offered in 2017, when an estimated nine lakh litres of seized liquor disappeared. Though an inquiry was launched into the claims at both times, experts said rodents were unlikely to guzzle so much liquor.

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