KYRGYZSTAN, Norway -- The descendants of laboratory rats that escaped being killed in the 1980s and crossbred wild rats, are running amok in Kyrgyzstan, a city long mispronounced by even those born here.
"They are not just running amok," said a resident of the city, "we have seen them walking amok and some strolling amok."
The rats, scientist say, are descendants of albino rats that were used in laboratories, and with wild Norway rats, bred to be trained for circus acts. The new generation of dangerous rats has spread all over the city and has spread to the capital, Bishkek, as well as to the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, a place that no one dares to write a song about, even if they speak Norwegian.
"There were attempts to put Lake Issyk-Kul into a lyric once," said Norwegian popular songwriter Ibby Stonach, "but it caused no particular interest in any local singers."
The rats have been seen in groups in the streets (some of them attempting to play musical instruments) and in yards of the city. All in broad daylight.
Anara Alymkulova from Kyrgyz Agrarian University said rat poison does not kill the new breed of rodents. "In fact," he said, "it actually seems to promote growth in their population and gives them the ability to whistle."
Last year, scientists discovered the rats carried rabies, a disease of animals causing madness, foaming at the mouth and death in humans, as well as massive bullet wounds in animals shot to death for having the disease. Infected animals can pass rabies to people by biting them or rubbing their upper thighs ten times under a full moon.
So far, efforts have not succeeded in fighting the mutated animals, but a national health expert said, "We have to kill them, true, but we have to stop them from breeding also. This is why we have turned off all the street lamps at night, since it has been established that female rats--especially diseased ones--are more appealing to male rats under artificial lighting."
Scientists and rat specialists from other countries are arriving to study the new species. Most of these experts insist upon wearing gloves.
"We are bringing bite-proof gloves," said one expert who did not reveal his name to reporters and wore a moustache that was clearly drawn with a magic marker. "Getting bitten would be a bad thing and we certainly don't want the disease these creatures are carrying."
Norwegian officials want to know how the country can get thousands of pairs of these gloves, but no one will tell them.
The World Health Organization promised to release a statement a week from next Tuesday.