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(Discovery Channel)   Scientists train giant African rats to detect land mines. Reportedly go "BOOM" when one is found   ( divider line
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7665 clicks; posted to Main » on 07 Dec 2004 at 12:13 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

94 Comments     (+0 »)
2004-12-07 10:36:52 AM  
2004-12-07 10:43:56 AM  
Rodents of Unusual Size, Alexis? I don't think they exist.
2004-12-07 10:44:53 AM  
Great, now even midgets are being put out of work.
2004-12-07 10:53:00 AM  
Paging PETA. After the bonsaikitten link, I can see this is going to be a banner day on Fark!

/I love animals, they're delicious!
2004-12-07 10:53:52 AM  
am I the only one who when they thought the article was about griefing?

/lets train rats on that gimp ass noob.
2004-12-07 11:27:40 AM  
Do they also Shake-shake-shake the room?
2004-12-07 12:15:33 PM  
The SOP when stepping on a land mine is to leap 30 feet into the air and spread yourself over a wide area.

2004-12-07 12:16:13 PM  
uhh, the land mines go BOOM, the rats apparently go splat !
2004-12-07 12:16:31 PM  
"Rats have a very strong sense of smell, which assists them to trace the scent of explosives," he said.

They dropped "Besides, they're rats for Pete's sake. Who cares if they blow up?"
2004-12-07 12:17:25 PM  
what do scients have against the Africans? Just another example of the MAN keeping the Africans down!
2004-12-07 12:18:02 PM  
Wasn't this briefly mentioned in West Wing 1 or 2 episodes ago? Mine-sniffing dogs get bored and the rats are easier to train/replace?
2004-12-07 12:18:44 PM  
Wonder if giant, New York subway rats could do the same thing?
2004-12-07 12:18:52 PM  
RTFA, the rats are too light to set off the mines -- no boom, no splat. Pretty cool.
2004-12-07 12:19:49 PM  
"Not only do rats accept inexpensive rewards like bananas and peanuts, they can undertake monotonous, repetitive tasks for longer periods than dogs, which want more affection but easily get bored."

Coincidentally, the description about the rats above can also be used to describe programmers. Although, if dogs could write programs, then outsourcing would be the least of a coder's problems.

2004-12-07 12:21:26 PM  
headline deja vu?
2004-12-07 12:22:18 PM  
Boomtown Rats?

Do they know it's Christmas?
2004-12-07 12:22:48 PM  
I'll play:

"Not only do rats accept inexpensive rewards like bananas and peanuts, they can undertake monotonous, repetitive tasks for longer periods than wives, which want more affection but easily get bored."
2004-12-07 12:22:58 PM  
There are very few land mines in New York City. Hmm...
2004-12-07 12:23:47 PM  
... I just hope they didn't test on animals!
2004-12-07 12:24:08 PM  
Wonder if giant, New York subway rats could do the same thing?
I'm sure Jason Giambi doesn't appreciate you calling him that...
2004-12-07 12:25:47 PM  
land mines are terribl .... y efficient.

/land mines suck
2004-12-07 12:26:09 PM  
Great headline, submitter, it elicited a chuckle :)
2004-12-07 12:27:15 PM  
Some Cheerleader "I love hamsters"
Me "Me too, we must exchange recipes"

/no not really.
2004-12-07 12:27:18 PM  
When you step on a landmine, standard procedure is to jump 200 feet in the air, and scatter yourself over a large area
2004-12-07 12:27:30 PM  
I seem to recall reading this a while back-- Old news new source? If I post something about OBL being last seen in Tora Bora can I get a link green-lighted too?

I keed-- well, not too much
2004-12-07 12:27:49 PM  
Of course they should, Kyushu. So should cluster bombs (which regularly leave behind unexploded bomblets for kids to play soccer with), and napalm (or whatever they're calling that gelatenous fuel that gets dropped on people).

Frankly, anybody that conducts warfare with these kinds of devices and tactics has no business biatching about people that strap bombs to themselves and walk into supermarkets, or fly planes into buildings. If you think that all's fair in war, then deal with the consequences of that.

You've lost all moral high ground, in my opinion.
2004-12-07 12:27:52 PM  
Your rat wants asplosives.

/seriously, land mines are a bad idea
2004-12-07 12:28:11 PM  
I found this little dog in Mexico and brought it home. When I got it home...
2004-12-07 12:29:13 PM  
Excellent headline. And the rat in the article pic is pretty odd looking. Can't imagine coming across one of those.
2004-12-07 12:30:39 PM  
"Unlike mine-sniffing dogs, which easily get bored or by mistake get blown up"

Well I for one am incredibly relieved to hear that it's by mistake, and here I was thinking that the poor asploding pooches were suicidal.
2004-12-07 12:31:52 PM  
They also could use Siberian hamsters.....

2004-12-07 12:33:18 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

2004-12-07 12:34:18 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 12:35:37 PM  
Kre-rist! Did you see the pics?

Those rats are the size of small dogs.

//I think my neighbor is breeding them.
2004-12-07 12:36:24 PM  
Hey!!... This is a Farking outrage!!...

[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 12:36:53 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 12:37:13 PM  
I like DARPA's self-healing minefield

/DARPA gets all the fun toys
2004-12-07 12:37:49 PM  
That was the biggest rat I've ever seen. Whoa.
2004-12-07 12:37:53 PM  
They should force the executives of the companies that manufacture the mines to go find them. Kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.
2004-12-07 12:37:57 PM  
We're already developing teeny little land mines to blow up the rats before they get to the proper land mines that blow up people and tanks.

And now it turns out that they're developing fleas that search for the anti rat mines.
2004-12-07 12:40:51 PM  
Landmines are the best static defense possible. When i was stationed in korea it was the only thing keeping about 1 million pissed off N koreans and there chinese allies from wiping us off the face of the earth....not that it wouldnt of happend anyways if they came across but at least we would of got a few of them with us.They allow a small group of ppl to defend a large space. BTW are briefing at Camp Casey was that we were preaty much there to scream help and die in place. Land mines aint preaty but they are effective and in war thats what you want. ppl who say they need to ban landmines either need to grab a gun and guard the perimeter that they just opened up or shut the hell up. Your choice.
2004-12-07 12:42:49 PM  
Those african rats can be dangerous... If you ask me they are doing a favor...

[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 12:44:18 PM  

While the general concept of that is damn scary- I laughed my ass off when the mines started jumping around. :P
2004-12-07 12:44:41 PM  
Those african rats can be dangerous... If you ask me they are doing a favor...
2004-12-07 12:44:45 PM  
more information:
2004-12-07 12:47:08 PM  
Napalm is called Mark 77 now & it's still being used by the US.
2004-12-07 12:50:30 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 12:51:58 PM  
Your rat a splode.

Great headline, submitter. Audible laughing in lab = funny looks from co-workers = awesome.
2004-12-07 12:53:01 PM  
Rats don't demand as much affection as dogs?! Bullshiat! I've got a pet rat, and if I blow a kiss to my hubby I end up w/ Libby glued to my face demanding one too.

But I can put her in a cage when I'm done.
2004-12-07 12:53:21 PM  

Heh, yeah. I guess making 'em six-leggers )which could fold away 'neath the unit) would probably be a better bet, and even creepy for enemy troops seeing it.

As far as scary, remember that they ARE "intelligent", and communicate, so I am guessing that unlike traditional anti-personnel mines, they can be coded to self-destruct for when given a coded signal. That way they can be safely removed after the conflict is over. (Heck, even simply de-activated and made to give off a quiet signal to help locate them, so they can be collected for reuse elsewhere.)
2004-12-07 12:56:48 PM

[image from too old to be available]

[image from too old to be available]

a girl and her African Pouch Rat
2004-12-07 12:57:03 PM  

So non-military males get lumped into "not specified"?
2004-12-07 12:59:15 PM  
some of her comments on the little guy

"he has a midwest ferret playpen with added levels and a hammock, but even that cage is too small for him IMO. He HAS TO be out daily for running about and play or else he gets very upset and starts shaking the bars at night trying to get out..

He finally figured out how to open the cage doors of the cage, though so they're wired shut... gahh..

but the plus side of letting him run free? he's toilet trained. I'm dead serious, he ONLY goes to the bathroom in the toilet!!!!"

"more intelligent (so much so it's scary) and they live much longer.. actually so intelligent I constantly have to keep him entertained with new ideas. he gets bored of new things so fast .... simple pea fishing just does'nt cut it for him anymore, lol... 'tis why I started training him to do tricks. it keeps his mind active and he's less destructive that way. you should see what he did to our bathroom cabinet, ACK!"
2004-12-07 01:03:10 PM  

good question... Ill bet it is all the african rats that make up the "not specified" or its people like this...

Hey Honey... Come check this out I bet its barried treasure!

[image from too old to be available]

2004-12-07 01:04:05 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 01:05:59 PM  
First headline that's ever made me laugh out loud. Good job, submitter.
2004-12-07 01:08:57 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

Yeah, yeah. But can they teach a rat to play Solitare?
2004-12-07 01:17:05 PM  
Finally found a good use for africans
2004-12-07 01:18:03 PM  
Coyote_Laughs: "Landmines are the best static defense possible... ..Ppl who say they need to ban landmines either need to grab a gun and guard the perimeter that they just opened up or shut the hell up."

So then you would also agree that flying airplanes into buildings is a perfectly justified method of attack, since it is cheap, effective, and requires few personnel.

2004-12-07 01:19:09 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

So cute

from this site
2004-12-07 01:20:33 PM  
Reminds me of similiar solution proposed for Cambodia's mine problem...

Mad Cow Disease--The Final Solution
The following is a Reuters dispatch datelines March 30 from Phnom Penh:

While much of the world shuns British cows, a Cambodian newspaper suggested yesterday that the animals be shipped to Cambodia and allowed to roam free and detonate the millions of land mines littering the country.

"The English have 11 million mad cows, and Cambodia has roughly the same number of equally mad land mines. Surely the solution to Cambodia's mine problem is here before our very eyes in black and white," the Cambodia Daily said.

"The plan is simple, practical, and will make mince-meat of the problem overnight," the paper said.
2004-12-07 01:21:48 PM  
The problem with land mines is not so much that the mines themselves are evil, but that mines are used indiscrimately by amature soldiers. Professionals use land mines not to attack or kill the enemy, but to force the enemy to go where desired. Amatures will use land mines to extract tolls from civilians and other nefarious purposes. Professionals should recover unused mines when the battle field changes, to they might be redeployed in new areas of interest.

People yell and scream that the US hasn't signed the world wide land mind ban, but that ban is a worthless piece of poo. It only bans antipersonel land mines, however, command detonated land mines, such as the US Claymore, are still allowed. Anti-vehicular mines are also allowed. Both of these types mines can be booby-trapped by any solder who has ever watched MacGuyver to be autonomous antipersonel mines. The more disturbing problem, also not covered by the ban, is antipersonel bomblets dispersed by aerial cluster bombs.

About 40% of the submunitions do not detonate upon impact like they should. They just lay there on the ground for thirty years until some unsuspecting child gets curious about the bright orange ball in the forest, and gets himself blown up. During the Vietnam conflict, the US dropped over $1 million dollars of ordinance each day, and now barely spends $100k per year on clean up efforts. If we cared about the Vietnamese enough to fight a war for them, why don't we care enough to clean up the mess we made of their country and Cambodia and Laos?
2004-12-07 01:22:20 PM  

i admire what you probably just got yourself into.

good luck.

FWIW, i think these rats are awesome. though i imagine one of them getting mad at the owner and 'forgetting' a landmine.

2004-12-07 01:24:14 PM  
OK If a doctor stick a rat under your nose you now know why:

from the article :

"With a grant from the World Bank, APOPO has also developed a cheaper method of detecting tuberculosis compared to the current expensive and time-consuming technology.

"The rats have analyzed spatum samples provided by patients from hospitals and health centers in the Dar es Salaam region," Weetjens explained.
2004-12-07 01:26:17 PM  

Well, aren't we the trolling Canadian pacifist.

You seem a little confused. Landmines are a DEFENSIVE weapon, your little brown men in airplanes are an OFFENSIVE weapon. Nice try troll..
2004-12-07 01:31:52 PM  
Rats? Heck, back in my day [85-88] they used to us 12B10s! And we LIKED it.

2004-12-07 01:34:53 PM  
I thought, during the BSE crisis and later the foot and mouth crisis, that they should just use infected cows and sheep. Either carpet bomb known mine fields with the carcases, or let the live ones wander around the field.

Moo, moo, moo, BOOM! *SPLATTER*
2004-12-07 01:36:15 PM  
Then again. i also had the idea of putting BSE infected cows into some sort of safari park, then charging people to drive around in jeeps with automatic weapons and rocket launchers to take them out.
2004-12-07 01:36:44 PM  
Theburner you took my response :p

I'm of the opinion that you use the weapons that save the most lives. It might be oxymoronic for those who havent served but Napalm,landmines, even nukes to a lesser extent save lives. They kill people,true, but the real question you should ask yourself is who would you rather have die you or them. war is not about greys. It is Us vs. Them and if you try to see it any otherways, you die period.
2004-12-07 01:39:35 PM  

So then you would also agree that flying airplanes into buildings is a perfectly justified method of attack, since it is cheap, effective, and requires few personnel.

The Japanese seemed to think so in WWII (though replace the word "building" with "ship").
2004-12-07 01:41:48 PM  
The rat in the picture looks more like a dog then some dogs. (Interestingly enough, those dogs typically look more like rats then dogs.)
2004-12-07 01:46:23 PM  
How long does the Afro pouch rat live? And what's their suceptability to cancer? I have a fancy rat (Libby, the face hugging rodent from my earlier post) who's got cancer, vet said it's a matter of weeks. I don't want to go thru this sort of thing again, but also don't want to be sans rat, either.
2004-12-07 01:47:40 PM  

Gee.. someone should make a game about that... :P
2004-12-07 01:53:07 PM  
Damn, the dynamite monkey will not be pleased...
2004-12-07 01:55:23 PM  
people are doing some interesting things with rat breeding

here is a "dumbo"

[image from too old to be available]


[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 02:01:32 PM  
"War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."

- William Tecumseh Sherman
2004-12-07 02:03:18 PM  

Two of the best lines ever from a military commander:

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."
- Attributed to General George Patton Jr

May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't.
- General George Patton Jr
2004-12-07 02:05:00 PM  
Reward the rats with coke and literally the problem will disappear overnight.
2004-12-07 02:09:13 PM  

is a good first place to look.

From what I can read they are a handful. Plus I don't know if they are legal where you are. They do live longer.

I have Norwegian rats, I can't believe how attached they are to me. I had a pair and one died a few month ago. They really should be in a group but the little guy is too old to deal with young rat.

The short life span of the Norwegian is a hard thing to deal with. But they make it worth it
2004-12-07 02:21:00 PM  
Baby pouch rat

[image from too old to be available]

[image from too old to be available]

However I will stick with the Norwegian rat

Here is a good source of rat infomation and heath care

rat palace

Introduction to the Health Guide

Rat Behavior and Biology
2004-12-07 02:22:57 PM  

Thanks, we just discovered the tumor last week, and it's already doubled. It is hard, and amazing how wonderful the critters can be. First pet I've ever had that will (forcefully) share her food with me. (Not that I eat it, of course, but I have to be gracious and accept it!)

I'll have to post a pic later! Thanks for the sympathy. Few people like rats, and even fewer understand how hard it is to say goodbye to a friend. Cheers.
2004-12-07 02:37:41 PM  
Giant Gambian pouched rats of Mozambique, Tuesday Morning Quarterback salutes you!

(Google it if confused)
2004-12-07 02:38:45 PM  
Keep those varmints out of Louisianna, or the Cajuns will eat'em.

/ever see a Nutria?
2004-12-07 02:39:38 PM  
lol at teh classic headline
2004-12-07 02:55:26 PM  
They're risking our valuable supply of giant rats!

Can't they just use lawyers?
2004-12-07 03:18:19 PM  

you are most welcome
2004-12-07 03:41:36 PM  

Using lawyers WOULD eliminate the huminatarian concerns. I say run with it.
2004-12-07 04:05:34 PM  
This is old news. I've even heard Princess Diana talk about these rats.
2004-12-07 04:17:42 PM  
Rizzo unavailable for comment?
2004-12-07 06:41:39 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2004-12-07 08:52:28 PM  
Kiteflyer - that's my ex girlfriend! (We're still good friends though). She's had "Matisse" for a while and he's very sweet. He walks on a leash and comes when called - well, only when she does it. Pouched rats aren't really "domesticated" as such, so like other more "wild" pets they'lle get super defensive and loyal to just one specific owner. It's cool, you have your own attack rat.

You people making the explosion jokes are morons who do not read. Noone should want to blow rats up, they're harmless. Like bats and reptiles everything people hate about them is just a myth.
2004-12-07 10:55:31 PM  
I have a pet rat. He is the sweetest. His buddy had to be put to sleep 2 weeks ago because of advanced respiratory illness and he is still so sad. :(
2004-12-07 11:59:06 PM  

Canadian Pacifist?? Damned straight. Also irrelevant.

I used language that was intentionally inflammitory in order to spark debate. It's no troll. I'm absolutely dead serious in what I said. If it pissed you off, good. I've got your attention. Now, lets talk about the problem.

"You seem a little confused. Landmines are a DEFENSIVE weapon, your little brown men in airplanes are an OFFENSIVE weapon."

I'm sure that that makes a world of difference to the kid whose legs just got blown off, one of two this hour worldwide. My point wasn't about WHY they were used, only that they indiscriminately kill innocent civilians for decades after they are deployed. Wasn't it the inhuman horror of innocent civilian death the real trauma of 9/11? Do you understand how I could equate the means to the inhumanity?

Besides the jihadists would argue that they're defending themselves, their culture, and their religion in the only way they know how. If we're going to use the justification of the conflict as the yardstick by which we measure their use, then we're really screwed. There's not a committed person fighting in any conflict anywhere in the world that thinks that their cause is wrong. Everybody claims to be defending something. One wonders why we didn't just stay in the trees flinging poo at each other.

BTW- Are cluster bombs a 'Defensive weapon' as well?

The point I'm making here is not intended to single out any specific nation, if that's what's got you rankled; there are lots of nations that fall into this category. But the sheer hypocracy of saying 'by any means necessary' and then fighting a war against people supposedly committed to winning 'by any means necessary' is overwhelming.

Some of you say that mines don't kill people, irresponsible use of mines kill people. Hell, I'd be happy as a first step if the countries that manufacture the damned things would JUST QUIT SELLING THEM TO EVERYONE ELSE.

Really, is it that hard to keep it in your pants?
2004-12-09 01:58:59 PM  
like my grandmother used to say, lips that touch rats will never touch mine.
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