Police in India have blamed rats for destroying nearly 200kg (440lb) of cannabis seized from dealers and kept in police stations.
“Rats are tiny animals and they have no fear of the police. It’s difficult to protect the drug from them,” a court in Uttar Pradesh state has said.
The court had asked the police to produce the stash as evidence in cases of drug peddling.
The judge cited three cases in which marijuana was destroyed by rodents.
Judge Sanjay Chaudhary said in an order that when the court asked the police to produce the seized drug as evidence, it was told that 195kg of cannabis had been “destroyed” by rats.
In another case involving 386kg of the drug, the police filed a report saying “some” of the cannabis was “eaten up by the rats”.
Judge Chaudhary said some 700kg of marijuana seized by the police was lying in police stations in Mathura district and that “all of it was under danger of infestation by rats”.
He said the police had no expertise in dealing with the matter as the rats were “too small”. The only way to protect the seized goods from “such fearless mice”, he added, was to auction the drugs to research labs and medicine firms, with the proceeds going to the government.
MP Singh, a senior police official of Mathura district, told reporters that some of the marijuana stored in police stations under his vicinity had been “damaged due to heavy rains” and not destroyed by rats.
In 2018, eight Argentinian police officers were fired after they blamed mice for the disappearance of half a ton of cannabis from a police warehouse. But experts disputed the claim, saying that the animals were unlikely to confuse the drug for food and “if a large group of mice had eaten it, a lot of corpses would have been found in the warehouse”.
A study published in 2019 found that when laboratory rats were given cannabis-laced dough, they “tended to become less active and their body temperature also was lowered”.
In 2017, police in the eastern Indian state of Bihar had blamed rats for consuming thousands of litres of confiscated alcohol, a year after the state banned the sale and consumption of alcohol.
In 2018, technicians who arrived to fix a malfunctioning cash machine in the state of Assam found that currency notes worth more than 1.2m rupees ($14,691; £12,143) had been shredded – and the suspected culprits were rats.