TIL People are training rats to detect landmines. The rats are too light to set the mines off and can smell the explosive compound extremely well. The rats are very fast and can clear an area 3 times faster than use of electronic mine sweepers and with higher accuracy.

TIL People are training rats to detect landmines. The rats are too light to set the mines off and can smell the explosive compound extremely well. The rats are very fast and can clear an area 3 times faster than use of electronic mine sweepers and with higher accuracy.
TIL People are training rats to detect landmines. The rats are too light to set the mines off and...

Note that these are African giant pouched rats, also known as Gambian pouched rats, Cricetomys gambianus. They're much larger than the types of rats most folks on Reddit are familiar with, Rattus norvegicus (a.k.a. brown rats) and Rattus rattus (a.k.a. black rats or roof rats). Pet rats and lab rats are also brown rats.

All three species are related and have some things in common, though. They learn a lot about the world, they're smarter and more trainable than commonly thought, and they are highly motivated by food rewards.

and they are highly motivated by food rewards.

Me too thanks.


What do you do?

Train rats....

Long pause....

But in theory, that's brilliant. Don't need people or dogs going boom.

As a pet rat owner: Intelligence wise they're easily on par with a dog. Empathetically though, they lack significantly in ability to naturally grasp human emotions. Instinctually they have some really interesting differences (instinctive/automatic litter training is neat, urine marking everywhere not so much).

They don't trigger the landmine

Well, they chose to help 50 to 80 percent of the time. Much like humans, there are plenty of rat bastards who went for the chocolate. They were probably libertarian rats ("if I save him he won't be motivated to avoid drowning in the future")

Give /u/Tiger_of_the_Skies some credit. You did just copy and paste his comment.

Human emotion yes, but they have shown great empathy towards each other. Not an experiment I am particularly fond of, but interesting anyway

Rats forsake chocolate to save drowning friends

So you read that thread in askreddit

Free food is often the cheapest yet most effective enticement.

I think rats are the most common research subject for complex learning tasks in research. College students are the 2nd most common.

"Several rats" isnt much weight. I dont think u should worry about it.

Rat to mine: "You'll never amount to anything. See, I can run right across you and nothing happens. What a loser!"

That could be pretty depressing.

The title is the exact comment https://www.reddit.com/sub/AskReddit/comments/6ng6ho/comment/dk9jvoi?st=J56L0JMA&sh=3241225f

Thank you for making me laugh. "Rat bastards" I love that insult so much.

But I like rats :(.

Laos has the distinction of being the country today with the most unexploded ordinance littered around the country. Every year innocent people, mostly farmers and children, get injured, maimed or killed.

A lot of this ordinance was dropped by the US Military during the Vietnam War to disrupt the Viet Cong supply lines. It is estimated that the US Military dropped nearly 2 million tonnes of bombs, of which 30% failed to explode.

Unfortunately, there is a similar situation to Laos in Vietnam and Cambodia today with unexploded landmines and bombs.

Using rats and other small animals with very high olfactory senses is a excellent way to help identify and then clear these large amounts of explosives. The cost is cheap at €6500 per rat especially when you consider the amount of money spent on the ordinance in the first place.

I support the rat initiative, I think that the international community could support projects such as this much better, especially the US who dropped so much of this shit in the first place.

until several go for the same one :-\

I read about this a few weeks ago when I was in Cambodia. They get the weekends off and fruit treats :)

The sooner mined areas can be cleared globally, the better.

I am tickled by the idea that the rats have a standard work-week and a benefits package. That's some unionized rat action right there.

I had a pet rat once. He clearly wasn't satisfied with the bedding in his cage as material for a proper nest, so I threw 2 or 3 paper towels in, figuring he'd just rip them up and make a soft pile to sleep on. Nope. When I came back a few hours later, he'd built a bed inside a goddamn tent with an overhead canopy. I think that rat could have done my homework for me if I left it in there.

OP is slimy

And they're cute too.

Who knows, maybe I just got bastards. Cute adorable bastards, but they'd knife me in a back alley for a cheese puff in an instant.

That's a very nice source. All the studies I'd read were definitely missing the "Is this instinctual or is it related to distress of the cagemate". That study does indeed nail that loophole for me.

I learned something, thanks!

its been going on for a very long time actually. this is far from recent news. rats are absolutely amazing for it and its pretty unexpected.

It might be enough to rattle the mine but not depress it.

This is already being done in my home country of Mozambique. Sauce.

It was also in an episode of the Amazing Race (S11E05)

That's not very wholesome imo

I know, that those 2 million tons of bombs are only those dropped over Laos. But I think it's interesting how much bombs overall have been dropped, especially in comparison to WW2.

"The U.S. dropped over 7 million tons of bombs on Indochina during the war—more than triple the 2.1 million tons of bombs the U.S. dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War II"


What if it's just a naturally good rat that sees the benefit of a balance of personal responsibility for individual tasks, and grouping resources together in a structured manner for tasks bigger than the individual?

Can such a balanced and nuanced rat exist?

A boyscout ratscout ratty nonbastard, if you will.

You'd be suprised how stupid some scientific names are.

OP can share the fact, but give credit where it's due.

It's very important ethically and practically / economically not to mistreat your work animals. You're counting on them to save yourself, men, women, children, farmers, laborers, etc from being maimed or killed by some pretty terrible explosives.

I know 90% of redditors don't read the article, but seriously? Not even reading the title?

Rattus rattus. Youre making that up

I lol'd

Did not expect to hear that today thank u

Easily remedied - dope a mine with dopamine to lift its mood right back up.

Former rat owner here, can confirm they're on par with dogs on intelligence and how easy they are to train (they were easier to train than my dad's dogs even!). I'd absolutely say they're more empathic than you describe though, I've come across several pet rats who could read human emotions decently well, compared to a lot of dogs I've raised and come across. I'm not an expert though, so maybe they were anomalies.

And also the Western Gorilla has Gorilla Gorilla as its scientific name.

I could take mine to the park, sit down with them in my lap, and let them wander out of my lap. They returned to me any time something spooked them, and they came to their names when it was time to go. I did that once though because I realized any number of other bad things could befall them at the park (stray dog, unseen bird of prey, snake, things they shouldn't eat, holes they could get into and not get out of, etc).

Anyway, so it wasn't wise to take them to the park, but my take home point is that they woukd stay near me and come when I called, much like obedient dogs.

College students are broke and will do anything for $5 worth of ramen

Glad you enjoyed it, have a nice day :) If you haven't visited, /sub/rats has lots of cute rat photos if you'd like to see some.

Case in point, rats playing basketball

Also convenient, because you need it to live.

"Oh, is there something good over here, gu-?"

Okay I'm just gonna need you to run across that field over there.

You can train rats to play basketball. They're actually quite loving and sweet pets, and very smart.

Even in Latin there's no better way to describe them than "It's just a fucking rat"

Well i mean $5 of ramen is like a month's supply so...... Yeah

I mean comparing them to dogs is almost unfair, dogs have literally been selectively bred over thousands of years to understand human body language and emotion. They can still be very empathetic creatures with out coming close to dogs

Copyin' OP has no original material and doesn't give credit when it's due. Sad!

If you are interested in supporting this initiative. Then follow this link and adopt a rat, or pay to have some land cleared of bombs.


Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I wouldn't know, because I don't eat the filthy motherfuckers

The United States has the distinction of being the only western power who refused to sign the Ottawa Treaty, banning the use of anti personnel mines.

"The U.S. dropped over 7 million tons of bombs on Indochina during the war—more than triple the 2.1 million tons of bombs the U.S. dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War II"

Maybe the "easier" production of bombs played a part in this? Factories evolved as well since WWII.

Former U.S. Air Force official Earl Tilford has recounted "repeated bombing runs of a lake in central Cambodia. The B-52s literally dropped their payloads in the lake": The Air Force ran many missions of this kind for the purpose of securing additional funding during budget negotiations, so the amount of tonnage expended does not directly correlate with the resulting damage.


Harambe's species, the western lowland gorilla, is Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

Not ramen. You give them free pizza.

So let me get this straight. I sign this form, you stick a needle of glowing goo in my arm, and I get a whole pizza? Can I get 2?

Read the title again.

Guess which iguana isn't gonna be talkin' shit anymore?

Isn't that kinda the point of TIL tho?

Amen to that. Whether it's humans or animals working for you, treating them well will pay dividends. And yeah, especially if they're all that is stopping you losing a leg.

My rats ate my sister's iguana's head. They escaped from their cage, opened up the lid to his tank, ate his head, then returned to their cage.

That was a fucked up thing to see. I loved my rats but that was a little jarring.

I had a few rats growing up. I was a very depressed child and when I was like 12 and having issues I would take my rat out and she would crawl all over me and lick my face until I was doing better.

Then she managed to break her own neck trying to climb out of the cage...

I guess this would be the very literal definition of ratting something out.

Plus they look secret-agent-bad-ass-shaken-not-stirred cool with those snazzy red collars.

Reddit itself is the source for most of the TIL threads, it seems.

Yeah, don't depress the mine trigger, it might blow up on you.

With the exception of the 38th parallel DMZ, we only use command detonated mines

Yea, we don't really need to mess up the dog genetics anymore than we have done. As stated in the title, rats work fine.

Rat-tle huehuehue. I'll show myself out now.

You can teach them to dunk. But they're not even bringing it back to half court. This isn't even allowed in a pick up game.

Or he Gizoogles it and finds this Reddit post

The article says these rats live up to 8 years, and the problem with dogs is they bond to specific handlers.

Love the apopo hero-rats, they are also being trained to detect tuberculosis, its friggen impressive and adorable!

So OP just copied and pasted the entire comment, removed the bit about food, threw on a "TIL" and found a link. Got it.

How to get rich in useless internet points:

Ctrl + C and Ctrl + P V a Reddit comment

Find a source that backs it up



Edit: fixed number 1 (twice now)

My first set of rats just ate my homework (not that I left it in their cage for that to happen or anything...)

My rat ate my parrot(

i mean this is /sub/til, no recent sources allowed

Things like that always make me think of archaeologists trying to decipher the motives of people from thousands of years ago. Like in 10,000 years some guy is going to find all these bombs in a lake and think we were making offerings to a god or something, because how would you ever figure out the truth when it's that convoluted?

So that's why I don't see them on /sub/awww. have their own sub....

That's absolutely fucking horrific. The history textbooks of the future (if we actually have a planet left to god damn write them on) will be a testament to the brutality of our time.

People bang on about how we're so much more civilized these days than during the crusades or the inquisition or the Victorian/Edwardian/Colonial ages. We're not. We've just given the brutal psychopaths better toys and legitimised their use of them against people we don't even really know exist.

What the fuck did the Vietnam war achieve? A pop culture trend that made billions? Cause it certainly wasn't stability in the region. Vietnam is still very much recovering from the war and the people there are bright and hopeful.

The very least the rest of the world's governments could do is clean up their fucking mess that's STILL GOD DAMN KILLING PEOPLE.

There's more to life than money. If your entire life is about money, it might as well be over. Why do we stand to live in this era where blind greed is allowed to damage so many peoples lives?

EDIT: I'm gonna add to this, cause fuck it. Just to continue with the Vietnam example, even though the "official outcome" of Vietnam - just to remind everyone - is that the North Vietnamese slaughtered thousands of the Southern Vietnamese and then had to fight 2 wars against both Cambodia and China to keep their country, why is it still seemingly so glorified in US culture? What the fuck kind of victory is there to be taken when a studies have found that:

Contrary to the initial analysis of the NVVRS data - a large majority of Vietnam Veterans struggled with chronic PTSD symptoms, with four out of five reporting recent symptoms when interviewed 20-25 years after Vietnam.

That's a huge incidence of PTSD, depression and other related mental disorders in any group of people. How the hell is it a win for them? So many Vietnam veterans came home and couldn't find work and struggled with mental health, only to end up on the streets.

That's not even the most recent wars we've been in, what kind of future are we making for our own citizens across the globe?

If that's what happens to the "winners", imagine what's going on with the people on the losing side.

Buttercup: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.'s ?

Westley: Rodents of Unusual Size? I think they don't exist. [BOOM]

The rat mafia put a hit out on the iguana mafia boss.

Rats have lived alongside humans since we developed towns and cities so they naturally evolved to deal with us/avoid us.

I thought they'd just unload a bunch of rats in a mine field and kaboom! This is much neater.

And tasty if you cook em right

That's not a valid argument. You wouldn't say black people are criminals because some happen to be.

This should give you some peace, it takes 5 kg to set off a mine and they weigh about 1.5. They claim to have never lost a single rat. And apparently they're fed and treated exceptionally well all the way into retirement. These are hard working happy rats.

I don't like that ending :(

tosses burger into minefield...

Tangential, but this reminds me that there's coastal areas of the Falklands that are still declared minefields because of the war there - while humans obviously avoid them, the areas are absolutely thriving with little penguins, who are too small to set the mines off. I just have this terrible mental image of a particularly chubby penguin belly-flopping onto one some day...

The very least the rest of the world's governments could do is clean up their fucking mess that's STILL GOD DAMN KILLING PEOPLE.

This is so true, and you can see this after almost every conflict. There are still vast areas in France which are prohibited for people because of WW1.


Well, OP did learn from his comment

I'm sure somewhere a distant relative of those rats called "harald" is gathering an army of rats to recenge this killing.

Be prepaired. Rats never give up. You must either wipe out their entire dynasty or allow them to get their revenge on you.

The last time someone pissed off a rat it killed half of europe. We then agreed to take them to the new world and we had an uneasy truce ever since.

They are even worse then the karlings.

Thank you for ratting him out.

I take it you are the most extreme end of the political spectrum you identify with?

The rats in question are African Giant Pouched Rats, which as the name would suggests, a somewhat bigger than normal rats. "Several" of them may well cause an explosion.

Still, I would wager they have processes in place to avoid that, I imagine it takes a lot of cost and effort to train these rats, don't really want them going boom.

Is trigger the rat's name?

Eurasian Otter Lutra Lutra

Every college student in existence