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Posted: 9/23/2004 7:20:04 AM EDT
I just hope the filthy little f**kers don't start eating you when they find you…mmm says Ratty, a nice trapped tasty human…

Rescue rats will sniff out buried victims


RATS are being trained to sniff out the buried victims of earthquakes and bomb blasts and could be sent to search for survivors in the same way as dogs.

The idea of being rescued by a rat may not appeal to many people, but they have the advantage of being able to crawl almost anywhere and slip through small holes and crevices.

Like dogs, they also have a highly acute sense of smell.

But to be successful rescuers, they must be able to home in on victims and signal their position to waiting rescue teams.

American scientists have been training rats to find human smells irresistible.

They are also developing a radio backpack which will transmit signals from the rats’ brains to alert search leaders on the surface.

A report on the project, funded by the Pentagon’s research arm Darpa, appears in New Scientist magazine. Scientists first identified the nerve messages rats generate when they find a scent they are looking for.

John Chapin, a neuroscientist from the State University of New York, who is taking part in the research, said: "When a dog is sniffing a bomb, he makes a unique movement that the handler recognises. Instead of the rat making a conditioned response, we pick up the response immediately from the brain."

Each rat has electrodes implanted in three areas of the brain which process odour signals, plan movements and experience rewards.

The scientists stimulated the reward centre to generate feelings of pleasure when the rodent’s nose picked up a whiff of human. In this way, the rats were trained to seek out human odours.

They were then set to forage for a target smell while their brainwaves were monitored.

The "aha!" moment when a rat discovered the source of the smell was identified by a particular brainwave pattern.

As well as being able to track a rat’s position from signals relayed by the radio transmitter, rescuers will also know when to start digging.

Software being developed by the scientists will recognise the "aha!" moment when the rat has found its target.

The team hopes to create a working rat rescue system within nine months.

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 10:12:00 AM EDT
Didn't finish the sentence; Rescue rats will sniff out burried victims and then eat the eyes out of their skulls.

Never trust vermin.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 10:16:57 AM EDT
Next they are gonna have cats that sniff out landmines.
Link Posted: 9/23/2004 11:25:21 AM EDT
That's got to be a mighty small flask of brandy...
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