POLING, A., BEYENE, N., BACH, H. & SULLYS, A. (2011)

Using trained Pouched Rats to detect land mines: another victory for operant conditioning.

J. Appl. Behav. Anal. 44(2): 351–355. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2011.44-351


We used giant African pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus) as land mine-detection animals in Mozambique because they have an excellent sense of smell, weigh too little to activate mines, and are native to sub-Saharan Africa, and therefore are resistant to local parasites and diseases. In 2009 the rats searched 93,400 m² of land, finding 41 mines and 54 other explosive devices. Humans with metal detectors found no additional mines. On average, the rats emitted 0.33 false alarm for every 100 m² searched, which is below the threshold given by International Mine Action Standards for accrediting mine-detection animals. These findings indicate that Cricetomys are accurate mine-detection animals and merit continued use in this capacity.


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