Tag Archives: rats

Uxo, Bomb Rat

RatWe interrupt our usually po-faced seriousness for a brief dose of vaguely topical cute… assuming your definition of cute extends to rodents.

You may have read and enjoyed Eliot Fintushel’s “UXO, Bomb Dog” when we published it here last year (and if not, you should, because it’s a great story), but you may not have been aware that even smaller animals can be trained to de-mine battlefields – like rats.

Trainers begin socialising the young rats to the sights, sounds, and textures of the world by walking them on wet grass, going for a ride in a lorry and interacting with humans.

Then the sniffer rats are taught to recognise the smell of metal land mine casings in return for a food reward.

Thirty sniffer rats are already being used in Mozambique, Africa, and have proved incredibly successful for the detection and removal of land mines.

The rodents are fitted to a leash before scrambling their way over a piece of ground, sniffing out any explosives.

A trained rat can clear 100 metres square in 30 minutes, equivalent to two days work for a manual de-miner.

I used to share a house with a guy who kept rats, and I can vouch for their intelligence… and their tenacity. Their ability to come when they’re called? Not so much. [via grinding.be; image by charlycoste]


rat paratrooper, stencil graffitiIt’s almost as if – despite our advancing technologies – all the health risks we considered dead and buried are coming back again. You’ve probably already heard about the resurgence of tuberculosis, but you might not have heard about the Bartonella bacteria, a newly emerging family of zoonotic pathogens – in other words, bacteria transmitted by rat fleas that have the potential to cause a variety of maladies in human beings, from serious heart disease to nervous system infections. [image by yaraaa]

All we need right now is a new plague, on top of everything else we have to deal with. But then again, Bird Flu was the new plague a few years ago, and despite all the yammering and media panic nothing really happened at all… [story via MetaFilter]