Daniel the rat being fed.

Photo by: Credit: APOPO

Credit: APOPO

Hero Rats Are Being Trained to Rescue Earthquake Survivors

These intelligent African giant pouched rats are helping humans save lives through search and rescue missions while wearing tiny backpacks.

June 08, 2022

In Morogoro, Tanzia, British research scientist, Dr. Donna Kean is training 170 rodents to be sent into earthquake debris to do vital work in finding earthquake survivors. The project has trained about seven rats to date, taking around two weeks to get the rescue rats up to speed. These rescue rats are sent into mock earthquake debris with tiny prototype backpacks that contain microphones, video gear, and location trackers. These tools will allow the rescue teams to communicate with earthquake survivors in real-time.

Dr. Kean expressed how the rescue rats are ideal for this type of work saying, “Rats would be able to get into small spaces to get victims buried in rubble.” The highly nimble rodents never set off landmines and their natural agility makes them ideal for use in hard-to-navigate disaster zones. Their suitability for this work goes further, with rats being adept at surviving in different environments and living off of anything. The rescue rats are even being trained to respond to beeps that call them back to their base.

Dr. Kean’s team collaborates with the non-profit organization APOPO for their “Hero Rats” project. These “Hero Rats” are set to start working with a search and rescue team in Turkey, joining earthquake rescue efforts in the high-risk area. The group of 170 rats is being trained for additional projects involving landmines, tuberculosis, and even sniffing out Brucellosis, an infectious disease that impacts livestock. Dr. Kean feels hopeful about her project’s promising results and is excited to be the only organization in this space working with this species.

Next Up

Bat Pups Babble like Babies

Baby greater sac-winged bats show similarities to human babies in the way they string together syllabus before they can learn to “talk.”

Tuskless Elephants Evolved to Escape Poachers

Unnatural selection: After being targeted by ivory poachers in Mozambique, elephants are being born without tusks at an increasing rate.

If A Bat Were To Bite You In Your Sleep, You'd Probably Never Know

Rabies is rare, but most cases are associated with bats.

How Frogs Boost Their Sex Appeal

Male frogs form ‘boy bands’ to serenade females and woo them into their mating pool.

Why the Long Face? Extinct Headbutting Relatives Reveal Giraffes' Neck Evolution

Pioneered by Darwin, giraffes have been used as a classic example of how animals adapt and evolve. Giraffe’s long-neck evolution has long been attributed to foraging for sustenance in the high canopy, now researchers argue that selection for head-butting combat played a role in the long length of giraffe necks.

Wildfire Outbreaks are Creating Their Own Stormclouds and Fire Tornadoes

Large wildfires are becoming more frequent as the planet warms and the heat, smoke, and gases they generate add to climate change. What is less well known is they can create their own weather. In 2021, California’s Dixie Fire generated its own giant storm clouds, lightning, and fiery whirlwinds.

99% of Sea Turtles are Now Born Female. Here's Why.

Global warming is creating a crisis in sea turtles' gender ratios, where 99% of them are being born female. Sea turtle populations have been facing a significant population decline further exasperated by climate change.

The Ancient Monkey Puzzle Tree Outlasted Dinosaurs. Now It's Facing Extinction.

The monkey puzzle tree is a remnant of the Jurassic era, more than 145 million years ago, surviving way past its ancient dinosaur counterparts. Reaching heights of about 160 feet, the evergreen tree has a lifespan of up to 700 years and stiff scaly branches with rigid spiral leaves. Monkey puzzle trees’ presence in the wild is shrinking and after million years, their very existence is now endangered.

Why is Snow Glowing in the Arctic?

Faint blue lights were spotted throughout the snow in the Russian Arctic during the holiday season. What causes this natural phenomenon?

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is Officially Extinct, Along with 22 Other Species

Preserved too late, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared almost two dozen previously endangered species as extinct, underscoring a larger problem of climate change and habitat loss in America.

Related To: