AFRICAN INGENUITY (1): Sniffer Rats in Mozambique

minerat

When they say you can’t make this stuff — they weren’t kidding.

We’ve just heard about some remarkable rodents in Mozambique, who have been specially trained to sniff out land-mines littering this former war-torn nation!

The giant rats are trained by an organization called — what else — Hero Rat to sniff out unexploded land mines before they blow up and injure innocent civilians.

How very Princess Di!

Each sniffer rat combs a 100 square meter parcel of land whilst attached to a special harness. When they come across a mine, they stop, sniff and sratch at the earth to alert handlers to their find. The mines are then dug up and deactivated.

One rat can cover in one day the same amount of land it takes a person an entire week.

Best of all, the rats are too light to actually detonate the mines — so they emerge unscathed from their noble endeavors.

Oh, and there’s more. The same uber-olfactory powers that allow rats to find mines also allows them to sniff out human diseases.

Hero Rat researchers are using the animals to sniff out pulmonary tuberculosis in human sputum samples. In early-stage experiments, their rats were able to accurately detect 40 positive samples in seven minutes — a feat that takes humans with microscopes two full days.

Although the testing is still on-going, it’s a promising application in a region notoriously lacking in adequate Western-style health facilities.

If you like what Hero Rat is doing to eradicate disease and landmines, let them know! You can adopt your own Hero Rat for a mere 5 Euro/month — a small sum (especially with the strengthening dollar) to save some big lives.

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