What connects rats and landmines?
Rats in Mozambique, Cambodia and Angola have a very unique connection to explosives.
1. The giant pouched rat is a large African rodent, only distantly related to true rats. They can weigh up to 1.5kg and measure 45cm from nose to tail.
2. Giant pouched rats are omnivorous, but they are particularly keen on bananas. They are also highly intelligent and can easily be tamed using a clicker, which they learn to associate with banana treats.
3. They are much more than just pets though, because they can smell explosives at very low concentrations. A Belgian NGO has so far trained more than 280 rats to sniff out TNT.
4. The rats are used to detect landmines in Mozambique, Cambodia and Angola. A single rat can check 200m2 in 20 minutes – something that would take a human four days to do!
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