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Police Train Rats To Sniff Out Land Mines


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Hummm? "The Rat Patrol". Sounds good.








Police Train Rats To Sniff Out Land Mines

Colombia Has Thousands Of Land Mines


POSTED: 11:54 am EDT April 20, 2006

UPDATED: 11:58 am EDT April 20, 2006


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BOGOTA, Colombia -- Police in Colombia are training rats to sniff out explosives.


The rodents, unlike dogs, weigh less than half a pound and don't trigger explosions when they walk on mines, officials said.


Lola and Espejo are two whiskered, red-eared rats. They are part of an experimental six-rat squadron.


Police are preparing the rodents for dangerous missions defusing the more than 100,000 land mines that are scattered across Colombia's countryside after 40 years of battle between the government and leftist rebels.



Col. Javier Cifuentes said he thinks his country is the first to use rats to conduct police work.


To earn their stripes, the rats have undergone daily training during the past year.


The animals are placed in a maze with explosives and other materials used to make bombs. When they find the target, the rats are rewarded with crackers and a gentle scratch behind their ears.


Trainers said the rats are able to locate the explosives 83 percent of the time. They estimate it could be another six months before they reach their goal of a 100-percent success rate. After reaching the perfect score, officials said the rats could be put on duty.


According to government statistics, Colombia leads the world in land mine victims. Officials said 1,070 people were injured by mines there in 2005, and nearly 25 percent of the victims died from their injuries.

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