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Rats in the News! [May. 18th, 2004|12:57 pm]
[Current Music |Pitchshifter - Genius]

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!

[User Picture]From: kit_ping
2004-05-18 08:30 pm (UTC)
Mokeypox? ;)

"Ah, Doctor, it is the dread trio- the hoke-pokey-mokey-pox! Have we any chance of survival?"

(Ignore me. I had sugared pop at lunch- no diet left in the machine- and it's made me go a lil' funny. :)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2004-05-18 09:15 pm (UTC)
Typo fixed... Is that a new icon?
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[User Picture]From: kit_ping
2004-05-18 09:46 pm (UTC)
New-ish. Within the last month I'd guess. I made it the same time I made this one (and armored, hyasaka erika, and otherworldly).
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[User Picture]From: marko_the_rat
2004-05-18 10:38 pm (UTC)
Awww. So cute! Thanks for sharing.
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[User Picture]From: genecatlow
2004-05-19 05:42 pm (UTC)
If humans stop burying the landmines in the first
place, it will put the newly employed Gambian rats
out of work. And being a rat is already a tough
enough thing to have on one's resume without having
one's only job experience a very limited one.
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From: tinuvielluthien
2004-05-19 06:46 pm (UTC)
My dad sent me another rats-in-the-news article this week: it turns out that some scholars are disputing that rats were involved in the spread of the plague. I don't have the article in front of me, but apparently by going through death records they've found a large number of outbreaks that occurred about three weeks after a lone death by a stranger travelling through town... so if the incubation period was longer than previously thought, there's no need to attribute the spread of the plague to rats -- we humans managed to do all that destruction of life all on our own. (As with landmines.)

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