Rats sniff out landmines

HeroRats are rodents who have been specially trained to sniff out unexploded landmines. The Dutch organization Anti-Personnel Land Mines Detection Product Development (APOPO), first referenced on BB in 2004, use Pavlovian conditioning to teach the rats to detect the scent of TNT and then send them to Mozambique for final testing and deployment. From CNN (image Goooutside/Wikimedia Commons):

 Images  Wikipedia Commons 4 44 Finding Landmine

Their olfactory senses are superb. They're native to Africa, so tropical disease is no problem, and they rarely weigh more than the 3 to 10 kilograms required to trip a mine, (APOPO chief of mine action and human security Havard) Bach said. It also helps that the mine-sniffing rats are not bonded to individual trainers or prone to ennui, as dogs are, he said.

"If you compare them to canine mine detectors, it's pretty much the same in terms of sensitivity and capability," Bach said, noting that dogs are better equipped to work in brush or high grass that might conceal a rat.

"Rats are not going to oust dogs in this industry, but it's a very positive complement," he added. "You could say they work for peanuts."

"Giant rats put noses to work on Africa's land mine epidemic"