Scientist Says Rats Help Trapped People

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According to a behavioral scientist, rats can be trained just like dogs. However, their small size makes them perfect for finding people trapped.

Apopo is an organization that raises and trains rats to detect landmines and sniff out tuberculosis, and now these rodents have a new task — saving disaster victims.

Dr. Donna Kean, a behavioral research scientist at Apopo, said rats have “got great sense of smell and their small size and natural agility should hopefully make them really good in this scenario where they could squeeze in small spaces and get closer to any victims.”

The rats wear tiny backpacks that hold communication tools.

“The technology will include a video camera, two-way audio so that we can actually talk to people through the rat. And also a location device so that we can get a clear idea of where the rat is at any given time,”She spoke.

Although rats are larger than rats that eat your garbage, the jury is still out on whether they are more than New York City rats.

“So the species of rat that we work with are called the African giant pouch rat, and they are native to sub-Saharan Africa and they are much bigger than your typical rat that you might have seen elsewhere; they can weigh between 1000 to 1,500 grams,” Dr. Kean said.

Training these rats can take from nine months to a year, with the average lifespan of a giant pouch rat in captivity ranging from 8 to 10 years.

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