In a remote village in northeast India, a plague of black rats suddenly appears and, over the course of three days, decimates the farmers' subsistence crops. As the stunned villagers try to cope, Australian rat expert Ken Aplin arrives with a local biologist to study the outbreak. The cause of the plague is a single species of bamboo that flowers en masse every 48 years, producing a bumper crop of nutritious seeds. When it does, the rat population explodes, as Aplin and his Indian colleague discover when they find the devastated fields crawling with rats. In 1959, the last time the mass flowering happened, a famine engulfed the region, killing thousands. The residents of a second village Aplin visits wonder: Could the same happen again? Even as they prepare for an attack, Ken Aplin, reaching into burrow after burrow, discovers that a breeding frenzy is under way. After several rat breeding pulses fed by the bamboo fruit, Aplin suspects the next pulse to hit the second village's fields will create a ravenous army of close to 12,000 rats. The question is, can the farmers get the harvest in before the pulse occurs?