Rats are being trained to be sent into earthquake debris wearing tiny backpacks, so rescue teams can talk to survivors.
The innovative project is being worked on by 33-year-old research scientist Dr Donna Kean from Glasgow.
So far seven rats have been trained, taking only two weeks to get them up to speed.
At the moment homemade prototype backpacks containing a microphone are being used, and scientists are sending them into mock debris.
Specialist backpacks containing microphones and video gear as well as location trackers will be created to allow rescue teams to communicate with survivors during real earthquakes.
Donna has been based in Morogoro, Tanzania, for one year, working with non-profit organization APOPO for a project named Hero Rats.
The rodents will get the chance to work in the field when they are sent to Turkey, which is prone to earthquakes, to work with a search and rescue team.
Donna said that she was fascinated by how quickly rats can learn and be trained, and said it is a misconception that they are unhygienic.
She described them as “sociable” creatures, and believes the work being done will save lives.
“When we get the new backpacks we will be able to hear from where we are based and where the rat is, inside the debris.
“We have the potential to speak to victims through the rat.”
The rodents are trained to respond to a beep, which calls them back to the base.
Source: The Good News Network.