Tuesday, July 14, 2015

a new critter

Well, this may surprise you.
I've adopted a very large rat.

It's a long-distance adoption, though. I don't expect to ever meet my rat, or even exchange letters. My rat will be too busy to write: growing up, enjoying a year of education with a personal trainer, then living a very happy and useful rat-life in Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia, or some other place in the world that has been made hazardous by land-mines. Can you imagine living or working or farming or watching children play in a place where the ground can blow up under your feet? Where you've seen it happen? I honestly can't.

The work these animal do, using their sensitive sniffers to safely identify buried explosives, is nothing short of amazing. The area that a rat can check in one hour would take 2 to 4 days with a metal detector!

The training process is very interesting, and the people who raise the rats and train them and work with them in the field are clearly invested in providing a high quality of life for the "hero rats." The FAQ page on the APOPO website answered all my questions about rat welfare. Because of course I had questions about rat welfare. I'm sure you do, too.

(images from APOPO website)

During training the rats are rewarded with bananas. 

They really seem to enjoy their bananas!

And if the rats' stellar work in identifying landmines (for subsequent removal by their human teammates) is not enough of a contribution to improving life for humans...it turns out they can also accurately identify tuberculosis. A rat can check the same number of samples in 20 minutes that a lab worker would check in 4 working days.

I mean, really. These are Some Rats.

Have you heard about them? You might want to check out the website.

Screenshot from website. Because CUTE.

I'm writing about this now because although there are lots of ways to support APOPO at any time, earlier today I learned that tomorrow, July 15, there will be a 50% match on any donation made to APOPO through the Global Giving site. A $10 donation is worth $15 to the charity, and so on. Only on the 15th, only between 9AM and midnight EST, only through Global Giving.

So it seemed worth writing up this quick post, just to put the information out there. In case it will be of interest to anyone, now or ever.

And in any event, you have now seen how adorable a giant rat can look while eating a banana! That picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. If my goats enjoyed bananas, that is exactly what they would look like...cheeks out to here.
General Useful Tip Alert: this website for World Time Zones is very helpful in lots of ways when you're trying to work out what time or what day it is somewhere on the planet. (Bonus: timezone map towels!)


  1. I love the mine detecting rats, and had no idea there was a way of contributing to the cause. Thank you!

  2. Excellent idea!! Thanks for letting us know.

    (But, I'm still not mad about rodents lol)

  3. There are diabetes rats too, though APOPO may not train thouse My son is fan of rats for pets. They are very cute and sweet. Landlords don't like them though. Thanks for the info.

  4. Thank you for the information
    Somehow the photos don't look like icky type rats. They're actually adorable.

  5. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  6. That is incredibly cool! I used to do SAR with my dog (years ago)... and I never imagined that a rat's nose could be used similarly!

  7. Amazing! I've never heard of rats being used for these purposes - thank you for enlightening us.

  8. I had heard about these rats, but didn't realize you could adopt one. What a great idea!


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