HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Vietnam has counted 27.7 million kills in a war this year against one of the country's biggest enemies _ rats.

The state-run Youth newspaper reported that the rodents were killed through early March with traps, hunting dogs and other methods.

Vietnam has been plagued by rats in recent years because of a decline in cats and snakes, which are often eaten or exported to China for use as medicine.

The voracious rodents have damaged more than 250,000 acres of rice fields this year. Last year, they damaged 825,000 acres, causing about $6 million in damage.

The newspaper based the death toll on reports from 25 cities and provinces and said it would be much higher if all 61 cities and provinces were counted. Last year, 55 million rats were killed nationwide.