Lifestyle Pets Hero Rats Project Training Rodents to Wear Tiny Backpacks and Help with Earthquake Rescues Rats are learning to wear backpacks that can be equipped with location trackers and microphones, so the animals can help human rescuers locate survivors stuck in earthquake debris By People Staff Published on June 3, 2022 02:43 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: SWNS The Hero Rats Project is training rodents to be sent into earthquake debris wearing tiny backpacks — so human rescuers can find and talk to stuck survivors. The innovative project is being worked on by research scientist Dr. Donna Kean, 33, from Glasgow, Scotland. So far, seven rats went through training, taking only two weeks to get up to speed on the tasks. For the training, the project uses homemade prototype backpacks containing a microphone. The rats learn to wear the backpacks and are sent into mock debris. 'Hero Rat' Magawa Retires After Spending 5 Years Sniffing Out Landmines in Cambodia SWNS Specialist backpacks containing microphones, video gear, and location trackers will be created to allow rescue teams to communicate with survivors during actual earthquakes. Dr. Kean is working in Morogoro, Tanzania, East Africa, with the non-profit organization APOPO, which started the Hero Rats project. APOPO has already successfully trained southern giant pouched rats to detect landmines without injury. The newly-trained earthquake rodents will get the chance to work in the field when they are sent to Turkey, which is prone to earthquakes. Woman Celebrates Graduation with Beloved Pet Rat Who Helped Her Through Master's Program SWNS Dr. Kean was initially interested in primate behavior. But she became fascinated by how quickly rats can learn and said it is a misconception that they are unhygienic. She described them to SWNS as "sociable" creatures. Altogether, APOPO is training 170 rats for the earthquake project, Tuberculoisus detection, and the detection of Brucellosis, an infectious disease that impacts livestock. "We hope it will save lives, the results are really promising," Dr. Kean said of her work with APOPO.