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Giant African pouch rats are performing a serious task: sniffing out deadly landmines.
The rats weigh between 0.7 and 1.5 kilograms and measure 30 to 40 centimeters in length, excluding the tail.
They are especially suited for mine detection because they have to use their sense of smell to locate their food supplies, which they store underground. They’re also easily motivated by food as a reward and are nocturnal, so they tend to be easy to manage during the day.
It takes two human “deminers” a full day to clear a 200-square-meter minefield. With the help of a couple of pouch rats, they can finish the job in 90 minutes. So far, the rats “have helped re-open almost two million square meters of land” in Mozambique.
The cost of fully training each rat at about $8,400.
Oh, and they only work Monday through Friday. On weekends, they play.