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HeroRATS: Sniffing out Landmines and Saving Lives HeroRATS: Sniffing out Landmines and Saving Lives

HeroRATS: Sniffing out Landmines and Saving Lives

by Patrick James

December 16, 2009
Rats are some of the most loathed mammals in history. Even the word rat functions as a stand-in for a criminal or untrustworthy person. However, these poor, unfortunate mongrels do have one thing working in their favor: long, prominent, and highly functional snouts. In parts of Mozambique, rats are using those furry proboscises to sniff out unexploded landmines, saving countless lives in the process.Established by a Belgian man named Bart Weegens, APOPO Detection Rats Technology is a nonprofit organization that trains African giant pouched rats to locate unexploded landmines, which are a serious problem in many parts of the world. The little critters are easily trained and, because of their diminutive size, able to find the mines without detonating them. These cheap, low-tech life-savers-with the awesome title of HeroRATS-will soon be implemented in Zambia, Congo, and Angola, and might eventually be used in landmine-afflicted areas outside Africa.You can find more photos, read the story behind APOPO, and learn how the rats do it at Socyberty.Training photo via Wikipedia Commons.
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