We know animals are amazing on so many levels. But who would have thought a rat could be a hero and save people from land mines?
But here I am telling you about the story of Magawa, a rat getting ready to retire from his heroic position as a land mine sniffer.
Magawa works in Cambodia and for the last 5 years has spent his days sniffing out land mines and finding war paraphernalia. His work is critical to the safety of the locals that reside in that area.
His career is a good one too!
Over the course of his career he has been able to find 71 landmines and 38 unexploded items. Because of his amazing work he was given a gold medal from the U.K. Charity PDSA – the first time in their history they gave this honor to a rat.
A little more about Magawa:
- Male rat
- Born on 11/25/2013
- Official job title is Mine Detection Rat
- Born in Tanzania
- Resides in Cambodia
- Measures about 27″ in length
- Weighs about 2.5 pounds
- Loves bananas and peanuts
- A friendly guy and exceptional worker
- Can search a 2,000 square foot area in 20 minutes (this would take a person with a metal detector days to do)
- Trained to detect explosive chemicals – he can ignore other elements
Magawa is part of a program from a nonprofit called APOPO.
This program is called HeroRats.
The organization breeds rats specifically for scent detection to help find landmines and tuberculosis. APOPO also works with dogs too – it is amazing the type of work dogs can do!
139,423 landmines and explosives have been destroyed since the program started.
The rats used in the program are African giant pouched rats. Rats were used because they have a strong sense of smell are lightweight and are easy to train making them perfect for this position.
When a rat finds a mine, they will signal to their handler by scratching the location. They of course will receive a treat when they detect one – a banana seems to be the reward for a job well done.
Worried about the rats getting harmed? So was I! But, turns out rats are awesome for mine detection because they are too lightweight to cause a land mine to be triggered!
Because the HeroRats are so important, they are treated very well receiving proper medical care, diet and stimulation. The rats will typically retire at about 7 or 8 years of age.
In over 60 countries there are landmines and other explosives that were left behind from war which has had horrible outcomes for the people that live in these countries. These animals with their strong sense of smell can literally save lives by finding these remnants.
Adopt A HeroRat
Because APOPO is a nonprofit, raising funds is an important part of what they do to keep the program running. For $77 per year you can adopt a HeroRat and help keep the program going so lives can be saved.
There are currently about 300 HeroRats in the care of APOPO and your donation will help take care of these heroes in the way they deserve.
You can even offer a hero rat a gift! Donate $10 for a basket of bananas or $15.00 will fund a health check.