Gambian Giant Rats Sniff Out Land Mines in Cambodia

Posted on October 17, 2015

Gambian giant rats from Africa are being used to sniff out land mines in Cambodia. There are at least two million buried land mines in the country. The cat-sized rodents can easily locate the land mines once trained to do so and they can do it much faster than a human with a metal detector. They are also light enough not to see off the mines.

National Geographic reports that a Belgian nonprofit named APOPO is using the large rodents to find mines. The rats can search a 2,000 square foot (200 square meter) area in just 20 minutes. It would take a human with a metal detector as long as four days to find all the land mines in an area of this size. NatGeo says the rats have been used to clear over 13,000 mines since 1997.

Good Morning! HeroRat Elise is searching for TNT in landmine detection training this morning #savetheworld #ratsofinstagram #herorats

A photo posted by APOPO (@herorats) on

This NatGeo shows how the rats are trained to locate the mines. They first have to get used to humans and then they have to taught how to sniff out TNT. The rats are trained so that when they hear a click on a clicker it means they will get a delicious reward. They are attached to a harness when they go hunting for mines. The rats scratch at the site if they smell a mine and they soon hear a click meaning they get a reward for their efforts.

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