Rodents: The New Airport Bomb Sniffers

In Israel, mice being trained to detect explosives, drugs
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2011 7:51 AM CST
These little guys could soon take the place of airport scanners.   (©Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden)

(Newser) – Which would you rather be exposed to: those pesky new “naked” airport scanners, or … rodents? In Israel, mice are being trained to sniff out bombs and drugs, in a system researchers say will be more accurate than pat-downs, x-rays, or sniffer dogs. The mice would be hidden in a device that looks like a scanner or typical metal detector, in cartridges where air is pumped in from outside. When drugs or explosives are detected, they run to another chamber and an alarm is triggered.

The mice will work in teams of eight for four-hour shifts, and more than one must flee in order for the alarm to go off, the Daily Mail reports. The rodents are easier to use than dogs, who need constant interaction (or at least doggie treats) to stay motivated, and the contraptions they work from are cheaper than the equipment currently being used. Air travelers will probably like the solution too, because, as a security expert points out to New Scientist, “the mice don’t see you naked.”

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