Los Angeles Times | 12/6/2010 12:00:00 AM
On Colombian minefields, rats may become man's best friends
December 6--Scientists train the critters to sniff out explosives. They do the job better, and more cheaply, than dogs.
Early next year, anti-narcotics police will begin deploying squads of rats to sniff out land mines in remote areas of Colombia where leftist rebels and drug traffickers have planted hundreds of thousands of the deadly devices. It's an unconventional initiative in a country that is second only to Afghanistan in the number of land mine victims.
Using a project in Tanzania as a model, Colombian scientists have taught rats to detect mines buried as deep as 3 feet. The rats are conditioned to search and burrow down for explosives in exchange for the reward of sugar.
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