Catching mice is not generally on a dog's resume, but a rodent disaster on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia is forcing herders to send sheepdogs to do a cat's job, China Radio reports. Hundreds of millions of rats and mice are chewing their way through traditional pastures in the autonomous region, and herders have responded by training their dogs to hunt the rodents down. It is a responsibility the canine warriors are taking to enthusiastically, the herders say. The dogs wait at entrances to the rodents' underground nests as the herders pour barrels of water into other entrances. The dogs bite or eat the fleeing mice. A dog can kill and eat more than 10 mice on an average day, making the animal one of the most important and popular enemies of the pests on the vast grasslands, the report said. The phenomenon has caught the interest of Beijing animal-behaviour scientists, who say they have never heard of it before. 'If you have 1,000 dogs suddenly starting to catch and even eat a species that they never touched before, it could be an important event in natural evolution, even though some human factors may have been involved,' a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology said. First-hand data and more information had to be collected to understand the phenomenon better, the scientist said. 'A possible catalyst, nonetheless, is a broken food chain due to abrupt environmental changes that drive species - in this case even domestic dogs - to adapt to new provisions.' A serious drought has intensified the rodent problem in Inner Mongolia this year, along with the near extinction of eagles, snakes and weasels - natural enemies that used to keep the rodent population in check. In some counties, the mice and rats are consuming more than 1,000 tonnes of grass per day, threatening the survival of sheep and cattle. The warming El Nino climate pattern has triggered more frequent explosions of Inner Mongolia's rodent population since the 1940s, according to a study by the State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pests, Insects and Rodents.