Ukraine's front lines are infested with mice and rats, carrying serious illnesses to soldiers and impacting combat capabilities, CNN reported on Jan. 21.
The surge in rodents reflects not only weather changes and mating patterns, but also the static situation at the front as Ukraine enters its third year of war. With rats and mice searching for food and warmth along the nearly 1,000-kilometer front line, conditions there resemble the brutal realities of World War I-era trench warfare.
A Ukrainian soldier who goes by the call sign "Kira" said that her battalion faced a rodent infestation while on duty in southern Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
“Imagine going to bed, and the night begins with a mouse crawling into your pants or sweater, or chewing your fingertips, or biting your hand. You get two or three hours’ sleep, depending on how lucky you are,” Kira told CNN.
Kira estimated that about 1,000 mice inhabited her trench of four soldiers.
"It was not the mice who were visiting us; we were their guests," she said.
The rodent epidemic has reportedly infected soldiers with diseases that can cause vomiting and bleeding from the eyes.
Ukraine's military intelligence reported in December that Russian soldiers near Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast had fallen ill with "mouse fever," a rodent-borne virus that causes eye hemorrhages, rashes, vomiting, and kidney problems.
CNN said it could not independently verify the report.
Soldiers have shared images and video on social media showing swarms of rats and mice among furniture, weapons, and equipment.