Rats and a cat bodyguard recruited to tackle Colombia's land mines
One often hears the expression 'I smell a rat' but in Columbia rats are being trained to use their sense of smell to sniff out land mines. If that's not amazing enough they also have a cat acting as their bodygaurd.
Colombian police are training up a new elite squad of rats and a cat to tackle the growing problems of land mines laid by Marxist rebels.
Rats are on the scent of land mines
Tomas the cat is being trained alongside 14 rats, including his partner Pablo, in a laboratory in the north of the capital, Bogota.
Vet Luisa Fernanda Mendez, who runs the laboratory, said: "We chose rats because they have a sniffing capacity similar to dogs, but can search in less accessible sites and their training can be completed more quickly."
The role of the cats is to act as "bodyguards" to protect the rats from predators such as other cats or iguanas.
The training program for the rats lasts two to three months and start when the rat is just a month old. Other nations, among them Spain and Mexico, are looking at the Colombian experiment, attracted by the low costs - the project has a budget of less than £30,000 a year - and the possibilities in the fight against terrorism.