Rats and cats working together? Yes, they are.
For the past year, a Colombian police unit has put rats and cats together in a cage as part of a project to train the rats to sniff out land mines. More than 100,000 land mines were planted by leftist rebels across the country. The project takes advantage of a rat’s keen sense of smell and light weight to find mines without activating them.
The veterinarian that has been working with these rats for two years said that bringing the rats face to face with an enemy allows them to stay more focused once they are released.
The rats are taught to freeze in front of mines, but had difficulty staying put for fear of being attacked by predators.
The cats are put in the cages, so that the rats will feel comfortable with predators. The cats play with the rats instead of attack them. The felines wear shields on their nails, so they can’t cause any injuries, and the rats will feel comfortable playing with the cats.
Col. Javier Cifuentes, who oversees the project, said the ratsâ€™ success rate in mine detection is 96 percent.