Scientists are training rats to rescue earthquake survivors while wearing tiny backpacks containing microphones and location trackers so rescuers can track them down and talk to them.
So far, seven rodents have been trained to make their way through the rubble. It only takes two weeks to make them fully equipped. The rats were chosen because of their size and agility which makes them the perfect companion in disaster areas.
The project is led by scientist Dr Donna Kean, 33, from Glasgow. She has worked in Morogoro, Tanzania for the past year for the non-profit organization APOPO as part of their ‘Hero Rats’ project, the Metro newspaper reports.
Kean, who studied ecology at the University of Strathclyde previously and also has a PhD at the University of Stirling, was fascinated by how quickly rats can learn and be trained.
She brushed aside misconceptions that rodents are unhygienic and described them as “sociable” creatures. She believes these well-trained rats will one day save countless lives.
“Rats could enter small spaces to reach victims buried in the rubble. We haven’t been to a real situation yet, we have a fake debris site. When we receive the new backpacks, we will be able to hear where we are based from and where the rat is, inside the debris. We have the potential to speak to victims through the rat,” Kean said.
The rodents will get a chance to work in the field when they are sent to earthquake-prone Turkey to work with a search and rescue team, GAE, the Metro newspaper reports.
(With agency contributions)
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Post expires at 4:02pm on Tuesday June 14th, 2022