Oh my goood look at this adorable little sleepy head ;3;
My favourite animal tags : photos that make me say "Wow!", reptiles & birds
Quotes, interesting things, conservation related and endangered animals
I have too many tumblrs:
#~ My reptile facts tumblr
# My pets and related ramblings
# My taxidermy tumblr and my dead things diary
# Everything else & Flight Rising
# And some of my own photos
Rats on patrol — rodents that detect landmines and tuberculosis
As a kid, Bart Weetjens was rather fond of his pet rats. Where other people saw mangy rodents, he saw potential. These oft-feared mammals can be more than just subway chasers and gourmet French chefs (Ratatouille, anyone?): in fact, rats can save lives.
Weetjens grew up to help establish APOPO, an NGO that employs African Giant Pouched Rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis. Using these rats is an affordable, inventive solution to blights that plague some of the world’s poorest countries.
Rats have more genetic material allocated to smell than any other mammal on earth. Weetjens trains them to scratch at a surface when they discover a particular smell, such as explosive materials or TB-positive sputum samples. Turns out, they’re much more effective than standard detection technologies. In standard landmine detection, four people with metal detectors can clear about 200 square meters of land every day. A rat with one trainer can clear the same amount of land in only half an hour.
They’re impressively good at screening for tuberculosis as well. A lab technician can correctly identify about 50 percent of TB-positive samples with a microscope, but adding a rat to that process bumps up the rate to 67 percent or more. Plus, they’ll work for peanuts and stay focused for hours at a time.
See how Weetjens came up with this innovation, and see his rats in action in his talk from TEDxBratislava below:
Yet another example of “you rat!” being a compliment… :-)
Yes yes yes. APOPO gets a small donation from me monthly. Go check them out if you don’t know about them already!
lepidopterist1: Painted tree rat (Callistomys pictus)
The painted tree rat is a species of spiny rat endemic to Eastern Brazil. It is the only species in its genus Callistomys and is a species of spiny rat.
The painted tree rat grows to 30cm long and is one of the larger species of spiny rat. It has white fur with a glossy black cap back and band to outs forelimbs. Its fur is long, dense and corse but not spiny as in other species of its family.
The population of the painted tree rat is severely fragmented due to a continued decline of habitat. Little is known of its natural diet and ecology but today it has been found in caoca plantations consuming the leaves of these plants.
Painted tree rats are classified as endangered on the IUCN red list.
Source IUCN http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/6985/0
Photo credit Marcos Sousa
unknown-endangered: Malagasy giant rat (Hypogeomys antimena)
Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Having been isolated on Madagascar for so long, Hypogeomys antimena is more like a rabbit than a rat. It has elongated ears and powerful hind legs and feet that allow it to leap almost a metre high, which it does to escape predators. It lives in a network of tunnels, which are occupied by a family group consisting of a monogamous pair and their offspring. Males are believed to provide much of the parental care in order to prevent high infant predation. Although mainly herbivorous, this species has been observed feeding on invertebrates in captivity.
Habitat loss, illegal deforestation, and invasive species have all contributed to the decline of H. antimena. The burning of vegetation for charcoal or agriculture cause forests to be replaced by dense undergrowth, which is unsuitable for giant rats.
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Madagascan government are working to set up a captive breeding programme. They are also helping local people to protect H. antimena. As yet, the Menabe Forest, where this species is found, has only temporary protected status, and a full protected status is needed to ensure the survival of this species.
Tani, you were the most destructive rat I’ve ever owned and you wrecked a lot of my things, but I wouldn’t have had you any other way. You were Tani, the brat, with your sisters, Kiki, the sweetheart, and Tara, the criminal mastermind. Together, you made the best group of rats I’ve ever had. Go rest in peace with your sister. I know Tara is going to be lonely without you two, but eventually you’ll all be a trio again
Tani was the cutest thing ever. I’m sorry for your loss. :(
In 2011, researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a simple experiment to ascertain whether a rat would release another rat from a cage without being given a reward. The answer was yes. After several sessions, the rats learned intentionally and quickly to open the restrainer and release the caged rats. The rats also repeated the behaviour even when they were denied the reward of reunion. Even more astonishing, when the rats were presented with two cages, one containing a rat, the other chocolate, they chose to open both cages and “typically shared the chocolate”.