Meet our HeroRats
Sniffles Adoption Certificate / Adoption Letter 10/09
Chewa Adoption Certificate / Adoption Letter 08/18
The dream of each and every rat trained by APOPO is to become a HeroRAT! HeroRATS contribute to peace and development, by finding explosives and screening for Tuberculosis.
The training process begins when the rats are 5 weeks of age and are weaned from their mothers. Trainers begin socializing the young rats to the sights,sounds, and textures of the world. For example, they pass generators, walk on wet grass, go for a ride in the lorry, and meet some new people. This helps the rats learn their environment and not be afraid of things they will encounter in the field, in training or on an operation. Then the rats learn to begin associating a clicking sound with a food reward- usually some banana or peanuts. Once they learn that “click” means food the real training begins. Rats begin to be trained in a series of cages and learn that they must indicate on positive samples to get the food, then it’s just practice, practice, practice.
Finding landmines and detecting disease is a complicated business so HeroRATS specialize in one of three disciplines. The first is screening samples of soil that have been brought from a suspected area and evaluating which samples (and corresponding areas) are highly suspected and which are not. This discipline helps ensure that the team tasked with demining an area can focus on the areas with mines and the areas without can be released- opening roads and letting in much awaited aid. The second and most popular method is working in the field to find hidden landmines. The third discipline currently pursued by HeroRATS in training is evaluating sputum samples for Tuberculosis.