A footlong rodent in a harness is ready to clear the world of landmines. Or at least, for now, parts of Africa.
Like dogs, giant African pouched rats are smart and cooperative, and have a highly developed sense of smell, plus they work for peanuts. These natives of sub-Saharan Africa are tame and can be quickly trained. Unlike dogs, they don’t bond with humans, so they can be handled by more than one trainer. It’s not a kamikaze mission for these HeroRATS, as they are called, since their light weight makes them highly unlikely to set off mines. Once a rat detects the scent of a mine, it scratches furiously at the dirt, a trainer marks the area, and the rat keeps moving.