May 18th, 2004

Nicodemus

Rats in the News!

Rats (specifically, Giant Gambian Pouched Rats, cricetomys gambianus) are being trained to detect landmines in Mozambique. They are smart and dedicated enough to hunt out the mines in exchange for food yet they are also light enough not to actually trigger the mines.

You can read about it in the Seattle Post without any registration or at the NY Times, which does include an awfully cute photo of a worker rat.

Those of you with good rat-in-the-news memories might recall that Gambian rats were a suspected vector of monkeypox about a year ago. It is still, AFAIK, illegal to import them into this country.

So, this time, the rats are paying us back by risking their tails to help us find unexploded landmines. Now if only we can train humans not to bury landmines, we'll really be making some progress!
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