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HeroRATS: Cheeky rodents sniff out landmines to save lives and limbs

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  • Giant African pouched rats are being bred to detect explosives by a Tanzania based NGO.
  • They are nicknamed HeroRATs.
  • Their intelligence and sharp sense of smell make them perfect for sniffing out landmines.
  • The cute hamster-like rodents are social animals that work well with humans.
  • Their work saves many lives and limbs and allows land to be restored.
  • An RTD film crew met a baby HeroRAT named Isaac when he was in training.
  • After graduating, he and his siblings were sent to places like Vietnam, Lao PDR, Angola, and Cambodia.

A non-governmental organisation based in Tanzania called APOPO (Anti-Personnel Landmines Removal Product Development) is breeding giant African pouched rats to detect explosives.

Their large cheek pouches (hence the name “pouched rats”) give them a hamster-like appearance.

The rats’ intelligence, aptitude, and sharp sense of smell make them indispensable helpers for landmine-disposal experts.

Nicknamed HeroRATs, the cute rodents are social animals that work well with humans.

They are good at following commands and learning their tasks.
Their work sniffing out landmines saves many lives and limbs and allows land to be restored.

An RTD film crew met a HeroRAT named Isaac when he was a baby.

He and his siblings were undergoing APOPO training, learning all the ins and outs of detecting explosives.

After graduating, the rodents are sent to places like Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Angola.

Isaac was sent to Cambodia, which suffers from more landmine accidents than any other country.

Millions of dormant landmines there pose a threat to locals and tourists alike, which hurts the country’s development and economic growth.

To see HeroRATs in action, watch Isaac: The Story of a Little Giant  on RTD.