Addicted to novelty since 2001

Landmine Hunting Rats

The ever-informative Mirabilis points to this fascinating article on how animals are being put to work in unorthodox ways. For example, alpacas apparently make excellent shepherds. The bit that interested me most was about the mine-hunting rats:

In Mozambique a Belgian charity called Apopo has deployed African giant pouched rats to help clear some of the 500,000 landmines that litter the landscape after the country’s long years of civil strife. Elsewhere dogs have sometimes been used to clear the detritus of war. But rats are lighter, so less likely to detonate a buried mine, and smaller, so easier to transport. They also work harder and learn faster than dogs.

That got me thinking:

5 Responses to “Landmine Hunting Rats”

  1. Red Wolf

    When they mention that alpacas make excellent shepherds, they neglect to mention how they do their job and why they’re so effective.

    Alpacas are very protective of their family group and will happily extend this protection to a flock of sheep. If a predator gets a bit too close for comfort, the alpaca will defend it’s group, and if it is lambing season that means killing the intruder. Predators soon learn not to mess with the flock with the funny looking sheep in charge.

    The upside is that it’s a reasonably cheap method of predator control. Rather than culling the predators, they learn that your livestock is a bad place to hang out and nothing gets accidentally taken out with the use of baits.

  2. donna

    strange you should mention… ferrets have been used by NASA and various other companies that have strange long twisty tubes that need wires run down them for years. Ferrets, it seems, love to run down tubes.

    This was proven when I ran the Victoria Ferret Association. One of our group events, we had ferret tube races. Dryer hose makes wonderful ferret tubes.


  3. Todd

    The US Navy has been using dolphins and sea lions to help them operate in shallow waters for decades now. Ethical considerations aside, of which I have strong ones when it comes to cetaceans, it is really amazing that these animals can be trained so well to perform tasks that they have no natural inclination to perform. One of the many stories on the web about this program.

  4. Janie Rightley

    An incredibly interesting examine, I might possibly not concur entirely, but you do make some quite valid points.

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