Hero Rat Wins Top Animal Award For Saving People’s Lives

Yes, we said: RAT!

One of Britain's highest animal honors has been awarded to a rat. Not just any ole rat… this Landmine Detection rat, Magawa, works in Cambodia and has made the lives of the country's citizens safer. For finding mines before they explode and saving lives, Magawa has been awarded the Gold Medal by PDSA, the UK's leading veterinary charity.


Founded in 1917, PDSA provides low cost and free veterinary care to the sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership. They started giving out medals during World War II to recognize animals for gallantry in the face of conflict. Previous honorees have included dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.

Magawa earned his award for finding dozens of land mines in the fields where many hundreds of workers farm, savings countless lives and serious injuries.

With careful training to sniff out explosives, Magawa and his rat colleagues learn to identify land mines and alert their human handlers, so the mines can be safely removed.

Rats have an incredible sense of smell and are light, so they don't set off the mines if they step on them, but they are trained to alert their handlers to where the mines are. Then experts can carefully dig the landmine out before it explodes and maims or kills the workers.

Even among his other skilled landmine detectors working in Cambodia, Magawa is a champion sniffer: In four years he has helped to clear more than 1.5 million square feet of land - an area about the size of 20 soccer fields.

Over this time, Magawa has found 39 land mines and another 28 items of unexploded military artillery. Each of these items capable of blowing up a worker and causing serious injury if not death.

The experts say that Magawa and his other rat friends have freed more than 1 million people from the terror of living with land mines.


For more on Magawa, watch this National Geographic story...

These Huge Rats Can Sniff Out Land Mines | National Geographic www.youtube.com


For more details about the PDSA and how Magawa was trained, click this npr article

Here's more about the charity PDSA – Saving Pets Changing Lives,


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