Giant rat wins bravery award for detecting landmines


A large rat has been given a gold medal for his bravery in potentially saving the lives of humans by detecting landmines in Cambodia.

Magawa, an African Giant Pouched Rat, was given the award by the British veterinary charity PDSA.

"This is the very first time in our 77-year history of honoring animals that we will have presented a medal to a rat," PDSA Chair John Smith said during a virtual proceeding, according to NPR.

Over the last four years, Magawa has cleared over 1.5 million square feet of land and detected 39 landmines and 28 other unexploded items, the outlet noted.

Magawa was trained to sniff the explosive devices by the nonprofit group APOPO.

According to the organization, rats are excellent at detecting landmines because of their speed.

“They can screen an area of 200 square meters in half an hour – something which would take a manual deminer four days," said Christophe Cox, APOPO's CEO and co-founder.

The rats are trained using positive reinforcement and scent discrimination. Because of their low weight and quickness, the rodents can detect the landmine without triggering them.

According to Cox, the rats have freed over one million people from living under the fear of landmines.

Since Magawa was the first rat to win the award since they began giving them out in the ‘40s, PDSA designed a special medal that could fit into his work harness, reported USA Today.

"Magawa is a true hero rat," said Jan McLoughlin, PDSA's director general.

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