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Rescue rats ready to help during earthquakes

What seems to be an idea straight out of a sci-fi movie, rats are now trained for rescue operations during climatic disasters such as earthquakes.


Mice carrying a backpack could save lives with their tiny bodies easily able to crawl through rubble and dust. The backpack includes a light, a GPS transmitter, and a New Scientist brought-on camera. The RescueRat will find those who need assistance and even calm the survivors down while the human lifeguards make their way.

With a bidirectional radio and some of its equipment, the rat will be able to communicate with humans, sending signals regarding its localization, that is, the zone where a human lifeguard is required.

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Scientists from the Belgian non-profit APOPO, who have already trained dogs to rescue in such situations, are now forming giant packed rats. Rodent rescuers may be in the field, working hand in hand with human professionals, next year.

Rats can easily reach areas to which dogs do not have access. Rats are also easier to train because they are always prepared for simple treats such as avocado and banana crumbs.

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