The job is too risky for humans. Enter these 'hero rats.'

Heroic rats? They're real.

Are you ready to gaze lovingly at a rat?

No? What if it saved thousands of lives?


According to the United Nations, land mines are killing about 15,000 people a year — 15,000! — and that's the low end of the estimate.

Bart Weetjens, a Belgian product designer, also contemplated the lives lost to land mines. He thought back to his youth spent with his pet rats. (Yeah, so what? He had pet rats. It's probably why he knew they could be trained pretty easily.) Following this hunch, Bart looked into gerbils being used for scent detection and asked around about rats, gerbils, scents, and land mines.

Then he put those things together and got a strangely heroic solution.

The HeroRAT!

The HeroRAT program gives folks the chance to adopt a pouched rat. From there, your rat can become a Mine Detection Rat (MDR)! The New York Times looks into just how all this rodent heroism came to be.

HeroRATs have deactivated over 19,000 land mines in Tanzania, Mozambique, Thailand, and Cambodia alone!

Faster than a speeding turtle, more powerful (at smelling) than a bloodhound, able to leap on land mines and not set them off because it doesn't weigh enough ... it's the HeroRAT!

For humans, finding land mines is super hard and super dangerous and takes forever. But for these semi-blind super-smeller pouched rats, finding land mines is literally a walk in the park.

"Ah, I love the smell of land mines in the morning"

These rats are detecting land mines in Angola, but mines are a huge danger in many places. Places like Cyprus, Syria, Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Myanmar, just to name a few places. In Cambodia, 50% of the land mine victims are children.

Land mines are indiscriminate killers. And, aside from killing people, which is horrible, they have a negative economic impact. You can't farm on a field of land mines!

That's why it's so important to find better and faster ways to get rid of 'em. Which brings me back to the rats.

*gazes lovingly at a rat*

Don't you just love 'em?


More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular