Today’s episode is with Dr Cindy Fast. She works with the non profit APOPO in
training their HeroRATS: rats that are able to detect hidden landmines from old wars
as well as to smell and detect Tuberculosis! She and APOPO are based in Tanzania
but send out their highly trained rats to countries with many lost and unexploded
mines like Cambodia and Angola. They also assist Ethiopia and Tanzania to fight
Tuberculosis by detecting positive cases quicker and more reliably than technology
can. Join us as we get a peek into the world of rats and see the ways they can help
make the world better! Has this episode changed your opinion about rats? You can
even adopt one of the HeroRATS! Check out Apopo.org for more!
● 00:10 Intro and message from Old Man Blue
● 02:20 Hello and welcome! What's your background and how did you get involved with
this type of work?
● 05:00 What first sparked your interest in rats?
● 06:08 I was nervous about doing research with animals but I was surprised at how
well they treated the rats
● 07:06 What’s it like having a rat as a pet? Are they tame or domesticated?
● 08:00 How would you compare their intelligence to a dog or a cat?
● 10:05 Rats are extremely intelligent. All they want to do is find food. They also laugh
● 11:53 How social are rats? We work with the African Giant Pouched Rats
● 12:30 Are they territorial?
● 13:38 Do the parents stay together?
● 15:13 Where in the world are you based and why did you choose this species of rat?
We are Apopo and we are based in Tanzania
● 15:55 Apopo had the idea of training rats to detect landmines
● 17:54 Rats are too light to set off the mines
● 18:49 Are people afraid of rats over there like we are here in the US?
● 20:37 Which other countries do you work in? We train the rats in Tanzania and send
them to Angola and Cambodia, and to detect TB in Tanzania and Ethiopia
● 22:15 Are things getting better in Cambodia?
● 23:52 And in Angola and Tanzania?
● 25:20 How do you train the rats to detect mines and TB?
● 26:06 Give them a food reward for identifying a target scent
● 28:50 Would rats be helpful to labs here in the US?
● 30:15 How do you train them to smell TB?
● 30:53 We teach them to react to a click sound
● 34:45 How do the rats signal a positive result?
● 35:40 Do they try to trick you into giving them food?
● 36:58 How long does the training take and how young do you start to train them?
● 39:43 Is the process the same for the land mine detecting rats?
● 42:03 How do they navigate a search grid? By using rope!
● 43:43 How many landmines have your rats found?
● 46:24 Where are you detecting TB? 2 labs in Tanzania and 1 in Ethiopia
● 46:55 Is there a vaccine for TB? By don’t other countries have more problems with it?
Is there a goal to eliminate TB in those countries?
● 51:42 How effective have the rats been in the war against TB?
● 52:50 Rats don’t need power where machines do
● 53:45 How can people support your work? Apopo.org - Adopt a rat! Get some cool
● 55:18 Rats have so much potential to help us against poaching and trafficking,
search and rescue and so much more
● 57:24 Thank you for being on the show!