Backpacking rats are training hard to rescue us humans from disaster sites

Jun 10 2022, 2:51 pm

Rats — they’re a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

In a recent instance of cool animal facts, scientists in Tanzania are training the little rodents to help with search and rescue efforts at disaster sites. And it’s going really well!

Scottish researcher and animal lover Dr. Donna Kean is one of the people behind HeroRATS, an endeavour by APOPO, a Tanzanian non-profit organization focused on training animals to help the world.

She trains African giant pouched rats to carry out search and rescue operations and contribute to other lifesaving projects.

In an interview with Discover, Kean revealed that she and her team have fully trained seven rats and a total of 170 are still in hero school, waiting to go out there and save lives.

Scientists orchestrate a post-earthquake scenario to prepare the rats for the real deal. They wear little backpacks (frankly, adorable) and if they find a victim in the debris, they trigger a switch and return to their trainers for a treat.

Aside from sniffing out survivors out from earthquake debris, animals are also being trained to bring an end to tuberculosis and landmines.

And that’s not all — rats are also helping out their fellow critters to put a stop to illegal wildlife smuggling.

People are so impressed by the project, some already want to see a movie based on these heroic rodents. And honestly? So do we.

You could also train rats and help save humans and animals in the future. The collective responsible for these efforts is looking for people with a PhD and experience with animals.

Apply here or tell your rat-loving friends about the opportunity.

You can also support this initiative by donating to APOPO here.

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