Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rats are Cool Too. I just loved this!




They may not be cute and cuddly, but rats have become man’s new best friend, says The Boston Globe. Because they spend their lives foraging for food, rats have supersensitive noses, which scientists have learned to utilize in two new lifesaving projects in Africa. In Mozambique, giant rats have been trained to sniff out thousands of land mines left from previous conflicts. The rats’ “noses are far more sensitive than all current mechanical vapor detectors,” says Havard Bach, a mine-clearing specialist with an international aid organization. Unlike dogs, rats are so light-footed that they do not trigger land mines. Their amazing success in detecting mines may lead them to be employed in other regions in Africa, as well as in Asia and Europe, where millions of mines that remain buried from previous wars kill and maim thousands of people each year. In Tanzania, the rat’s sense of smell is being used as a medical testing device: They sniff saliva samples for traces of tuberculosis. The animals are able to identify early-stage infections that may not be found by a microscope. Rats get a bad rap, says Alberto Jorge Chambe, a rat handler for the Mozambique project, but they’re smarter and friendlier than you might think—and far less expensive than trained dogs. “Rats are usually considered pests or enemies of humanity,” Chambe says. “But rats are helping my country escape the shadow of death.”

11 comments:

Jillene said...

Rats/Mice are my one GIANT fear. I shudder at the thought of one being on my shoulder--but good for them--just not me!! (0:

tut-tut said...

Well . . . you might feel slightly different if you had seen one nosing around the subway tracks. But these do seem like rats with a pedigree, I'll grant you.

OccasionalConfusion said...

"Rats with a pedigree" LOL but that may be true. I'm still in awe at this interesting article and at the fact that rats are getting some respect.

SaffronSaris said...

Interesting, I thought only dogs are capable of being sniffers.
Guess rats are so much more economical than dogs for the same job.

Maithri said...

And for all of us... there is a place... and a role in the family of things,

Thank you for this tender reminder,

With love, Maithri

citizen of the world said...

That is very cool. I don't like encountering them up close inthe wild, but I don't mind them in general. How neat that they can be so helpful.

Munchkins and Music said...

Who would have thought?? They look clean in those pictures though!

lettuce said...

wow that is a huge rat.

i find their little "hands" fascinating

goatman said...

I understand that rats are very clean when they are not in the sewers. And helpful to medical science as well.

A nice Christmas to ye.

meemsnyc said...

Wow, those rats are amazing!

SaffronSaris said...

Hiya Pecos,

Merry (belated) Christmas
&
Happy (in advance) New Year!!

=D