Harnessing the rodent’s finely tuned senses and small size has led to researchers recognizing another potential lifesaving career for their small, furry charges: Searching through rubble to find survivors. Dr. Donna Kean is running the program and has a lot of encouraging things to say about developing the rats into miniature search and rescue teams.
I train these clever creatures to save victims trapped in collapsed buildings after earthquakes. We kit them out with a rat backpack, and train them to trigger a switch when they find a victim & come back for a tasty treat 🐀#herosnotpests #science #weirdjobs #WomenInSTEM pic.twitter.com/728IQv70NX— Dr Donna Kean (@donnaeilidhkean) May 26, 2022
“I am leading development of the Search and Rescue project at APOPO, where we are training the rats to find trapped survivors in collapsed buildings after natural disasters,” she said during an interview, according to APOPO. “For this, the rats are trained to locate people hidden amongst debris in a mock collapsed building site. They communicate that they have found a human to us by pulling a ball attached to the vests that they wear. “They then return to where they were released from to receive a tasty treat. Their progress is very promising so far!”
**Please retweet** Do you want to help train these heroes🐭 to find trapped humans, fight wildlife smuggling, detect disease & clean up the environment? If you have a PhD & experience with animals apply now #weirdjobs #jobsearch #job #research #sciencehttps://t.co/tVj9XgSTYV pic.twitter.com/QLxzO0TEc3— Dr Donna Kean (@donnaeilidhkean) May 30, 2022
Kean keeps people updated on the rats’ progress through social media, sharing videos and factoids about the unusual rodents and bringing awareness of their true talents. The rats are currently being trained in mock debris, wearing small backpacks containing a microphone. The goal is to eventually have them outfitted with little backpacks containing a microphone, camera and location-tracking device so that rescuers can locate and communicate with survivors trapped in debris. Once the rats are fully trained, they’ll get their first assignment in earthquake-prone Turkey, according to People. A total of 170 pouched rats will be trained for this important search and rescue task, as well as to detect certain life-threatening diseases. Who knows — maybe the future will hold search-and-rescue rats instead of search-and-rescue dogs! This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
Look at these rescue rats go!The sight of rats doesn’t usually fill people with a sense of relief, but these backpack-wearing African pouched rats, that are being trained to find people under rubble, could change thathttps://t.co/6tkhn0sIan pic.twitter.com/map1OO1Ldy — New Scientist (@newscientist) June 17, 2022