Feared and regarded as dirty, dangerous and diseased, if there is one creature that tops the list of people’s most hated animal, But giant rats are actually being used to detect and prevent tuberculosis (TB) with a huge amount of success. Even more recently, they’ve specifically turned their noses to sniffing out the disease in East African prisons, but what makes a rat’s sense of smell so good?
The idea of utilizing rats’ keen sense of smell has been taken up by APOPO, a Belgian NGO. It currently has 50 “fully qualified” African giant pouched rats that have undergone up to nine months of training at its headquarters in Morogoro, Tanzania.
When fully trained, the rats can work through over 100 samples in 20 minutes. For a skilled human lab technician, this would take over two days.