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I'm talking about real rats, HeroRATs.
 

Welcome to HeroRATs headquarters!

HeroRATs are saving lives, sniffing out dangers such as landmines and disease. We are true heroes, working hand-in-hand with humans to create safer communities and a better world. A fully-trained HeroRAT can identify landmines quickly and efficiently, or can sniff out deadly pulmonary tuberculosis faster than traditional laboratory microscopy. Not only that, we work for peanuts!

In short, HeroRATs provide a simple, innovative solution to some of the complex global problems facing humankind today. By working together, we can save even more lives and limbs.

HeroRATs is a public campaign to raise awareness about APOPO's work. APOPO's mission is to train and disseminate sniffer rats to save human lives by detecting landmines and disease.

United Nations Mine Action Service posted a short video on Facebook about these HeroRATs so I went looking around to find some more info. What a great story! Here's a rather long video of the program.

A little info on the little guys

The giant pouched rats (genus Cricetomys) of sub-Saharan Africa are large muroid rodents. Their head and body length ranges from 25–45 cm (9–18 in) with scaly tails ranging from 36–46 cm (14–18 in). They weigh between 1-1.5 kg.

As stated on their website, not only are they being trained to sniff out landmines, they are also being used to detect tuberculosis by sniffing sputum samples; the rats can test many more samples than a scientist using more traditional methods. Is this cool or what?

I did a diary in July about the Landmine treaty going into effect on August 1st.August 1st Banning the Bomb(s). This problem is not going away with just a treaty. The efforts of these organizations has increased the land available for farming, decrease the casualties of the unexploded ordinance, and given hope to the people who live in areas contaminated with these horrible devices.

So next time you call someone a rat, think twice.

Originally posted to Bend Over Here It Comes Again on Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 09:15 AM PST.

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