In Mozambique, a crack troop of Mine Detection Rats (MDRs) has cleared more than 6 million square miles of hidden explosives.

Apopo, a Belgian NGO, trains up the rats before putting them out into the field. It takes about 9 months to teach the critters to sniff out TNT, using the same click-and-reward method that teaches puppies to sit. Attached to harnesses and followed by human handlers, the rats scratch and point when they find a land mine.

“They are doing a great job,” says Alberto Augusto, director of Mozambique’s national demining institute. “They are very special rats.” Augusto says with the rats’ help Mozambique can be free of mines in 20 years. via BBC Future

Photo: Xavier ROSSI/Getty Images