Hero Rats Save Lives. Really. Adopt a Hero Rat

Hero Rats Save Lives

Rats may not be in your top 10 list of creatures you love, but after reading this article about how hero rats save lives, you might change your mind about the way you feel about rats.

Did you know that rats are super smart and quite capable of learning complex tasks?  They’re even cognitive enough to care about each other.

Hero Rats Save Lives
“Food Reward” by Gooutside

In many countries around the world, rats are being training to sniff out landmines.  More than one-third of the world’s countries are contaminated with mines, cluster munitions or other explosives left behind by war.  In 2012 alone, at least 1,066 people were killed and at least 2,552 reported instances of injury were reported, 38% of these victims situated in Afghanistan, Cambodia, or Columbia.  It is impossible to know the true number of deaths and injuries because of cases being unrecorded.

Hero Rats Save Lives

The old-fashioned (and still done) way to detect landmines has traditionally been men in special suits walking in straight lines with metal detectors – a slow, tedious and very dangerous job.

Enter APOPO, an organization headquartered in Tanzania, that have found a way to put those intelligent rats to good use.  They are training rats to sniff out landmines.  As a result, these hero rats save lives.  Lots of lives.

After their training (find out how the rats are trained here), the rats are taken out to the fields and tethered to little leashes to keep them on track while they sniff for explosives. They cover a lot of ground this way – more ground than any human can in the same amount of time.

It is said that a team of rats can cover as much ground in 20 minutes, as it would take a team of men 4 days to cover.


But don’t worry!  The rats don’t get blown up.  They’re too light-weight to set off the landmines themselves. They simply scratch at the dirt when they detect a mine, as they’ve been trained to do, and the human takes over, scratching at the surface to unearth the mine and clear it.

Have a look at this short video, courtesy of APOPO, to see how these trained hero rats save lives by doing what they were trained to do.

Isn’t that amazing?  But it doesn’t stop there!

Hero Rats are also trained to detect Tuberculosis, a highly contagious disease and a huge problem in some countries. APOPO says:

Every untreated Tuberculosis patient can infect a dozen other people per year.  The need for faster TB diagnosis in overpopulated high burden cities is paramount. APOPO is working towards eradicating TB in Sub-Saharan Africa by training locally available rats to evaluate sputum samples more swiftly and efficiently. One rat can evaluate in ten minutes more samples than a lab technician can do in one day.

Hero Rats Save Lives
“Trained HeroRAT analyzing sputum samples for tuberculosis”

Adopt a Hero Rat

But training isn’t cheap, and that why APOPO is offering a chance for you to Adopt a Hero Rat to help pay for their training expenses.  It’s only $7 a month to adopt one. That’s not very much! You get to name the next newborn rat, you can even chose what you’re adopted rat will be trained for — mine detection, or Tuberculosis detection.  Or, you can make a one-time donation.

How cool is that?

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What’s your take on rats?
Does this article change your mind about them at all?



Jeanne Melanson
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10 thoughts on “Hero Rats Save Lives. Really. Adopt a Hero Rat”

    • I hear the rats in New York City are huge! I would be fearful of them too, I’m sure. It is nice to hear that these hero rats, though, can be trained to do such meaningful work. Thanks for visiting! I’m off to read your “Death of Summer.” Peace


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