Last week we told you about the African Gambian Pouched Rat's reemergence on Grassy Key. Now comes an organization headquartered in Tanzania called APOPO, dedicated to training African Gambian pouched rats to detect land mines and tuberculosis. When trained, they're dubbed HeroRATS.
Bart Weetjens, a self-described monk, started the organization in 1998. He had read an article about gerbils detecting explosives in airports and says he had an "aha" moment about the Giant Pouched Rats.
The rats train for 9 months -- though it only takes 2-4 weeks to socialize them with humans -- learning to sniff out the explosives in old land mines buried underground, he says.. They scratch the ground when they've smelled the TNT.