sniffer rats

The sniffer mice are part of a bomb-detecting unit developed by Israeli researchers.

Besides intrusive pat-downs and full-body scanners , you may soon encounter another hurdle while passing through security at an airport — sniffer rats.


The mice are part of a bomb-detecting unit developed by Israeli researchers who claimed the trained critters can be better than full-body scanners and pat-downs at detecting any would-be bombers and drugs couriers. The device looks like a metal detector or full-body scanner, but one side of it houses three concealed cartridges, each containing eight specially trained mice.

The animals work fourhour shifts, milling around in an allocated cartridge while sniffing air pumped in from outside. When they pick up traces of explosives or drugs, they will flee to a side chamber , triggering an alarm, New Scientist reported. To set the pattern of shifts, air is pumped to a different cartridge every four hours. This gives the rodents eight hours to sleep and play before they are required to clock on again. The mice take around ten days to learn their first smell. Subsequent odours take just a few days each. Unlike sniffer dogs, mice do not require constant interaction with their trainers or to be plied with treats to keep them motivated.

It is believed the concept may appeal to those who fear that the full-body scanners introduced at many airports are exposing them to harmful radiation and invading privacy.

Via Times of India