Udhagamandalam (TN). A local ‘Pied Piper’ has turned saviour to farmers of a hamlet here, with the “grateful” denizens presenting him a cake in the shape of a rat for exterminating thousands of the rodents over the last two decades and saving them from financial ruin.
Mani of nearby Ada Solai village was taken to a small restaurant by about 20 farm owners yesterday, where he cut a cake in the shape of a rat, to celebrate his 61st birthday.
The farmers said this was a token of gratitude for the ‘ratman’ as he had saved many of them from financial losses running to lakhs of rupees over the years by catching the rats from their fields and saving their produce.
They said the rats normally destroy 30 per cent of their produce like potato, cauliflower, carrot and beans.
The farmers, who invested Rs one lakh on cultivation every season, used to lose nearly Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 due to rats but it had come down drastically with Mani’s intervention.
Mani, a class III dropout, entered the profession about 25 years ago, charging 25 paise to trap a rat. With growing demand for his services, his rate has gone up to Rs 80 now.
Once he traps the rodents, he shows them to the farmers to get his money.
Claiming he was the only rat catcher in the area for the last two decades, Mani said he traps about 10 to 30 rats daily, which are buried and if dead, fed to the crows.
The rat catcher claimed he had caught nearly two lakh rodents in the last 25 years, not only in Nilgiris district, but in neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka.
His services had also been sought by big hotels, hostels and hospitals in the district and also Coimbatore, he said.
Both his sons have stayed away from his profession, one becoming a welder and another a mason, Mani, a proud owner of a small hatchback, said.