Police rats sniff out explosives in the Netherlands

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

police rat sniffer
“Officer Ratsniff, reporting for duty, sir!”

Make way everyone, make way! The newest members of the police force are coming through, and they’re rough, tough, and furry. No, they aren’t the usual specially trained dogs that law enforcement uses to sniff out dangerous explosives. I mean, come on, they’ve been with the police force for ages! Instead, the newest rookies are rats!

Yuck, that’s gross, why would the police want such smelly, dumb creatures on their team? Well, they’re not as dumb as we might think. According to Monique Hamerslag, who headed the rat training with the Dutch police force, they barely need “10 to 15 days to learn to distinguish a certain smell.” Ten days is such a short period of time though, so are they sure the furballs really know their stuff? Oh yeah, those twitchy noses certainly do! First class cadet rat Derrick – who’s been training for 2 years – can tell one smell from another almost 99% of the time. He and the other rats on his team are lean, mean, smelling machines!

There is a small problem though.

Believe it or not, the rats can be shy at times, so the police don’t expect the creatures to confidently stroll into a crime scene and sniff all the evidence right away; dogs are still the best animal for that position. However, the police do plan to keep the rats in their cages and haul them from location to location in order to make the rodents feel safe. Granted, it’s not as useful as a drooling dog who’s eager to smell anything and everything, but for the time being, it should do just fine.

The rats haven’t logged any active police duty yet, but they’ll likely start sometime within the next coming year!

Featured image courtesy of artmonstergirl on Flickr. Image of rat courtesy of AlexK100 on Wikimedia.