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Sniffer 'hero rats' saving lives in minefields and labs

Cold Highway

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Light, with an acute sense of smell and easily motivated by food rewards, giant African pouched rats have been found to be highly effective in mine detection by APOPO, the Belgian non-governmental organisation that launched the training project -- the first of its kind -- in this Tanzanian town.

The rodents are trained to detect the TNT in landmines through operant conditioning: a click sound to signal a food reward whenever they make the correct detection.

Other rats in the same project undergo a different type of training -- they learn to sniff out tuberculosis in laboratory sputum samples, providing a second-line screening for hospitals in Tanzania where lab testing has 60 percent accuracy.

AFP: Sniffer 'hero rats' saving lives in minefields and labs

Now that is awesome.
 
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