These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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When most people think of a rat, we imagine a disgusting little creature rummaging through the streets of New York, at least I know I do. I know there have been Disney movies, TV shows, and even articles done to try and eliminate rats from having an awful name, but they still are one of my least favorite type of animals. It wasn’t until recently that I heard about the works of rats in Africa and I was excited and willing to give rats the second chance they deserve. In Africa, hidden landmines kill thousands, yes thousands, of people each and every year. The landmines were placed during World War II. During the war, each side used landmines to impede the enemy’s progress. While it is unknown how many mines were used throughout North Africa, many of the mines are still operational and pose a risk to local populations. But, Bart Weetjens, created an unthinkable process to eliminate the landmine problem by using rats.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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Part of the APOPO, which stands for Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling in Dutch or Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development in English, these rats are saving thousands of lives.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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The rats typically work Monday through Friday, then rest and play on the weekends. They only work for a few short hours each day too.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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But they can clear two hundred square meters in just 20 minutes. It would take humans with metal detectors five days to cover the same area.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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They are absolutely perfect for the job. They are small enough that they don’t set off the landmine, but large enough that their trainers can spot them in the fields too.

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These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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Since 2000, they have found over 9,000 buried land mines and bombs all across Tanzania and Mozambique. They’ve also found thousands of small arms and ammunition stashed in the ground.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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According to the landmine monitor, there was still a global average of 9 casualties per day in 2013, including many innocent women and children.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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Detection of landmines is however a complicated, dangerous, costly, and time-consuming process and many developing countries lack the resources to properly commit to the task.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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The rats have a very sensitive sense of smell. The rats can smell TNT in low concentrations and even when it’s buried under the ground.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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The locations that are indicated by the rats, by scratching on the floor, are followed up by a manual de-mining team, who detects and destroys the mines.

These Rats Did The Unthinkable Right Before Tons Of People Were About To Die

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The rats normally live for up to 8 years, but are usually done working in the fields by the time they are 4-5 years old.

They live out the rest of their days as heroes, munching on avocados, apples and bananas, and being loved by their handlers. Each rat is assigned 1-2 handlers in their lifetime, so they create a bond that only they would understand, spending years working together. So once the rat decides to retire, they are still loved and nurtured. If you are interesting in helping this incredible cause, you can visit the APOPO website and make a donation here.

Be Sure To Share These Landmine Sniffing Rats With Your Friends Below.