Rats are called in to defuse landmines
June 1, 2005
Zagreb - Croatia is considering using specially trained rats to help neutralize unexploded landmines left over from the 1990s Croatian-Serbian war. A media report yesterday said that Belgium had offered to provide Croatia with the trained African rats.
Rats have been described as a cheap and efficient way to remove landmines.
After being released into the minefield, they sniff out the landmines and after detecting one they start to scratch the ground, alerting their handlers. "Basically, it's the same principle as with dogs, but unlike dogs, which sometimes got blown away due to their weight, rats do not have such problems and rats also do not get bored so easily," Nikola Pavkovic, an official of the Croatian Demining Centre, told a German news agency. He said the large African rats, each weighing 3kg, would first have to undergo a period of adjustment to south-eastern Europe's climate and environment. The demining rats have already been used successfully in Mozambique in a project funded by the Belgian government and the European Union. - Sapa-DPA