Rats have for long been considered as enemies to humans due to thier gnawing and feces dropping proclivity in places they infest. However, APOPO training and breeding centres in Tanzania has endeared them by showing off their life saving capabilities to the world. This is by utilizing their strong sense of smell to detect TNT (Trinitrotoluene) explosives found in landmines.
Over 50 countries in the world suffer greatly from landmines contamination as a result of civil wars. This creates barriers to agricultural activities, development and access to basic needs.
Several Methods have been adopted to help control these cases like use of sniffing hounds and metal detectors and despite beings helpful hounds are expensive to maintain while metal detectors are slow and there is danger of setting off mines by the user who may step on them.
The African giant poached rats seems to be the solution to this, putting in mind their high intelligence, are easy and fast to breeding and are light therefore can't set off landmines as it may be the case when using dogs and metal detectors. Using rats technology has also been found to be fast compared to other methods as one rat can search 200 square meters in 20 mins.
Giant poached rats are known for strong sense of smell which they use in search of food in the wild. It is therefore easy to train them to associate landmines with food and this is what APOPO does. Training these rats takes about 9 months within which they are tested to avoid making mistakes as this can be fatal they have to be 100% corrects. Individuals who fail these tests retire.
The first stages of training involves socialization and habituation where they are familiarized with being in humans contact, detecting different odors and engine sounds to prevent them from being distracted when they encounter these conditions.
Training is used concurrently with treats when the an individual passes a test. The rats will either scratch the ground, pause and scratch their faces or sniff in the air as a sign of an encounter with mines.
These rats have solved a lot of these cases in Zimbabwe and other cases in the world. What do you think about these rats abilities? Did you know about them before? Let me know about it in the comment section and don't forget to follow this account for more articles.
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