CHIDZA, Zimbabwe, September 29 — With headlamps to peer through the darkness, children in rural Chidza village in central Zimbabwe scamper through the night to trap mice, which they roast and sell to motorists on the road to neighboring South Africa.
Considered a delicacy, the field mice are hunted in cornfields where they have grown plump on the grains, grass and wild fruits.
The children use old-fashioned traps — wooden rectangles with spring loaded bars — and bait them with seeds of grain. They strategically place the traps on little paths used by the mice as they look for food.
Sometimes within minutes of laying the trap a mouse is caught. The snapping sound of a trap alerts the kids who rush to retrieve their catch. On a good night the children say they can catch between 50 and 100 mice. The night hunting comes at a risk as snakes are also on the prowl for the rodents.
By the end of their trapping adventures the children will have the mice heaped in dishes. The mice are then roasted over an open fire, salted and left to dry before finding their way on the market. Standing by the roadside, the children attract travelers by holding up skewers of the mice. They sell 10 mice for a dollar and say they are doing a brisk business.