Stories: Rats

  • The hero rats of Africa sniff out land mines — and TB infections

    MOROGORO, Tanzania — The grass is still damp with dew as the sun begins to glint over the Uluguru Mountains. It’s only 7 a.m. in Morogoro, Tanzania, but Oprah and Malala and Taylor Swift and the others are already hard at work. They are heroes in the region, literal saviors to thousands of Tanzanians and those in the...

  • Giant Rats Are Helping Doctors in Mozambique Sniff Out Tuberculosis

    Ezequiel Maconha-Otenesse had night sweats, pain in his chest, and discharge spewing from his lungs when he coughed. A local hospital in Mozambique tested the 26-year-old repeatedly for tuberculosis (TB), but it took more than five months to reach a diagnosis. "I felt weak all the time," Maconha-Otenesse told VICE News. "I was losing weight. I didn't want to...

  • Rats! The Best Noses for FInding Landmines

    Rain makes for hard conditions when sniffing out explosives. Abraham’s nose is strong enough and he smells the landmine buried below. A giant pouched rat, he furiously digs at the ground below him. A loud click breaks the activity and Abraham sprints straight across for his treat, a small sweet banana.   After a hard day of...

  • Meet Abraham, a Hero Rat

    This morning I met Abraham: He has just detected an anti-tank mine. As soon as he sniffs TNT, one of his trainers sets off a clicker. When the rat hears the sound, he scurries over to be hand fed a miniature banana.  This five-month old African Giant Pouched Rat, so named for its chubby cheeks, is only...