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'Hero Rats' Are Being Trained To Find Earthquake Survivors

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'Hero Rats' Are Being Trained To Find Earthquake Survivors

Rats are being trained to search for people trapped in the rubble from earthquakes.

A handful of furry rodents have been taught to go into danger zones carrying tiny backpacks, with location trackers and microphones to allow survivors to communicate with the rescue team.

Their size and agility are perfect for searching disaster zones, and so far they have never set off a landmine.

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Dr Donna Kean, from Glasgow, has been working with non-profit organisation APOPO as part of the project, which has been named 'Hero Rats'.

The rodents will get a chance to put their skills to the test when they are sent to Turkey, which is prone to earthquakes, to work with search and rescue team GAE.

Altogether 170 rats are being trained for projects including landmines and detecting tuberculosis. It is also hoped that rats will also soon be able to sniff out Brucellosis, an infectious disease that can devastate livestock.

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The rats carry little backpacks with location trackers ion them. Credit: SWNS
The rats carry little backpacks with location trackers ion them. Credit: SWNS

Speaking about the scheme, Donna said: "Rats would be able to get into small spaces to get to victims buried in rubble.

"We have not been in a real situation yet, we have got a mock debris site.

"When we get the new backpacks we will be able to hear from where we are based and where the rat is, inside the debris.

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"We have the potential to speak to victims through the rat."

The rodents are trained to respond to a beeping sound, which signals to them to return to the base.

"A colleague is a seamstress, she makes the backpacks, she's very talented," explained Donna.

"We are getting custom-made backpacks which will have video recorders, microphones and a location transmitter.

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"They are so agile, they are so good at moving through all kinds of different environments. They are perfect for search and rescue-type work."

Donna says rats are perfect for searching danger zones. Credit: SWNS
Donna says rats are perfect for searching danger zones. Credit: SWNS

She added: "They can live off anything. They are very good at surviving in different environments which just shows how suitable they are for search and rescue work."

While rats are often not thought of with any great fondness by most people, Donna says there's much more to them than we think.

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"They are very trainable, the first stage is to train them to come back to base point – they respond to a beep," she said.

"There is a misconception they are dirty and unhygienic. They are well looked after with us, they are sociable animals.

"We hope it will be implemented, we are partnered with a search and rescue team in Turkey.

"It would just be a case of as soon as an earthquake happens, arranging the transport.

"We are the only organisation working with this species, there are other organisations training dogs.

"We hope it will save lives, the results are really promising."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]  

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: News, Animals, World News, Weird

Dominic Smithers
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