Friday, November 07, 2003

Mozambique: landmine detecting rats

Here's an idea! Use rats to sniff out landmines. The rats will be "deployed" in Mozambique next week.
Scientists involved in the project said that rats were in many ways better mine-hunters than dogs: "They learn quicker and do not get so personally attached to the owner, so they're easier to transfer to another trainer," said Mr Cox.

Researchers also said rats, being lightweight, were easier to transport and less likely to set off mines accidentally. "Their noses are closer to the ground, so they can operate in an area of high mine density where a dog may be confused," said Bartes Weetjens, who thought of the idea eight years ago after recalling that the rodents he bred as a childhood hobby had an acute sense of smell.