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Mine-Sniffing Hero Rat
News Bytes 09/28/2020 19 Comments

In Great Britain in 1917, an organization called the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) was formed. It was originally a free veterinary clinic. Later, in 1943, the PDSA began to grant awards to heroic animals. Now it has given its highest award to a creature for its role in saving human lives. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, was awarded the PDSA’s Gold Medal for his “lifesaving bravery and devotion.” His heroic act? Discovering 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance (military materials designed to detonate) over the past seven years.  

Magawa does his work in Cambodia. He was trained by a Belgian organization that has taught rats to find landmines for more than 20 years. The group, called APOPO, works with programs in Cambodia, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Together, people and animals have cleared millions of life-threatening mines left behind from wars and other conflicts. Magawa is the group’s most successful mine-finding rat. He’s cleared the equivalent of 20 soccer fields of land, returning it to safety for people to pass by on.

There’s still much left to be done. More than 60 million people in 59 countries continue to be threatened by landmines and unexploded ordnance, says the APOPO. In 2018, landmines and other remnants of war killed or injured 6,897 people, the group says.

Many rodents can be trained to detect scents and will work at repetitive tasks for food rewards. But the APOPO decided that giant African pouched rats were best suited to landmine clearance. That’s in part because they live a long time for rodents—up to eight years. Their size is perfect too. They are lightweight enough to walk across mine fields without triggering the explosives—a job far too dangerous for people. Before Magawa, all the medal recipients had been dogs.

Sadly, the task for Magawa and others that will come after him is large. It will continue until Jesus returns and puts an end to the wars He said we would have with us. (See Matthew 24:6.) But the day will come when mankind will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2:4) Perhaps in that day, even landmines will instead form cups to hold human kindness.

(Magawa, the mine-sniffing rat, displays his PDSA Gold Medal for lifesaving bravery and devotion. He searches out unexploded landmines in Cambodia. PDSA via AP)

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Most recent comments

That is so cool!!! A lot of

That is so cool!!! A lot of people hate rats, but I think they're cute, especially this one! Great job Magawa! You deserve it!

2nd Comment

Yay!! That is so cool! Keep up the good work Magawa! (I wonder how big he actually is, like his height and weight and stuff!)

Riley D

According to Bing it typically weighs between 1 and 1.4 kilograms (2.2 and 3.1 lb). : )

That's crazy

I do not like rats, but if I don't have to deal with them and they are saving lives, then great.
@Carys M, that is so tiny and small. I wonder if he's every been lost before?

Sarah F

Well actually, that's pretty big for a rat, they're usually even smaller! Also probably not, he could have a tiny leash they walk him with LOL.

this is Mylee

WE just killed rats in our shed with rat poison......... This one is so cute I am so glad that they can help people. Most people hate them but I am glad that they can help! That is so small no wonder it can't start the trigger to explode. Magawa's collar has a medal on it for his reward !

hey all

so i just read the article about video games and i wondered if anyone plays hypixel and if so my username on hypixel is CubCraft_YT and i play half an hour every day except saturday sometime after three.


could anyone who gets on early could they repeat the message because i always am like the fifth or sixthe comment. if you could that would be helpful thank you

also also

sorry about that bad grammer

Janna (Daniel's sister)

I don't like rats, but this is kinda cool. It's kinda weird that he was awarded an award for BRAVERY, but the he himself isn't brave........

@Warren C

I am not sure what you mean. Sorry! Because even if I have a late comment, I can still read the article and all the comments before. So I guess I don't know what you mean by repeat the message. Sorry again.

@Carys M

Thanks! That is pretty big!

human thanks

thanks to the military animals working around the globe people have been saved. for that all man kind should be giving their thanks.

@riley D

oh mostly it's just that i don't reread the comments generally after i post some unless i'm specifically posting something for someone else but you guys might so i don't know. plus genreally all my comments are near the end. so if someone posts then leaves then their not going to see my comment.

@Warren C

I think I am beginning to understand. What I typically do is post on the daily one, then check it once more the next day after everyone has commented, then just leave it alone, unless there is a big discussion going on. On the monthly ones, I comment, then come back the next month and look at what everyone else said. Did that make sense?


Hero Rat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Has anyone noticed my initials spell EW??



Rats can be a pest(thankfully

Rats can be a pest(thankfully I never had to deal with them) but I'm glad that they are training them to sniff out landmines.

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