Who are you calling “dirty”? Dutch police are training rats to sniff out drugs, gunshot and explosives residue, fire accelerants, and other substances that could implicate someone in a crime. They won’t replace the K-9 corps who are still called out to crime scenes to sniff around, but a pilot program in Rotterdam has shown the rats to be stunningly effective at behind-the-scenes work. Their sense of smell is more refined than a canine’s and their results are accurate 95 percent of the time.
Trainer Monique Hamerslag says she came up with the idea after seeing rats used to sniff out landmines in Africa. Right now she’s working with a team of five: Magnum, Poirot, Thomson and Thompson (named for the detectives in The Adventures of Tin Tin), and Derrick (named for the detective protagonist in a German TV series).
Plenty of investigators have claimed to “smell a rat”; soon they’ll be paying more attention to what a rat smells.
Hat tip to Der Spiegel.