Chinese police have trained squirrels to detect drugs at the border KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Chinese police have trained squirrels to detect drugs at the border

Chinese police have trained squirrels to detect drugs at the border.

Police have “successfully trained” squirrels, as they do with dogs, to sniff out drugs along the border in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, the Washington Post reported.

Yin Jin, a police dog trainer in the region, told state media that six Eurasian red squirrels were trained as an alternative to canine narcotics units.

While they are just as efficient at detecting substances, their small size enables them to search places that dogs would not be able to reach.

These include stashes crammed into spaces in warehouses or parcels at distribution centres, as well as those at heights.

A video posted by Chinese media outlet People's Daily shows the rodents darting between objects to sniff as part of a laboratory exercise.

Police dog trainer Yin Jin told Chongqing Morning Post that it had taken years to get the squirrels to this level of ability, but they were doing an 'excellent job'.

'The sense of smell of squirrels is quite sensitive,' he told state media. It's just that our technology in training rodents was not mature enough before.'

Their training is part of a national research project to bring in a new unit of anti-drug animals, including rats.

Despite the breakthrough, Mr Jin told The Washington Post that 'it's probably going to take some time' before the sniffer squirrels are deployed.

These are not the first rodents to have their noses utilised for public service, as bomb-detecting rats have been doing their bit for over a decade. 

Last year, Malaga - a 'hero' mine-detecting rat who was awarded the animal equivalent of a George Cross - died after a five year career with Belgian charity APOPO.

A statement from APOPO said: 'During his career, Magawa found over 100 landmines and other explosives, making him APOPO's most successful HeroRAT to date.

'His contribution allows communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play; without fear of losing life or limb.' The squirrel squad has been doing an “excellent job” during routine tests, Jin said. But since the yearslong process has been a tough nut to crack, they won’t be officially deployed for a while.

“It’s probably going to take some time,” Jin added.

A video, published by the state-sanctioned media outlet People’s Daily, shows the elite task force during one of their training exercises.

According to Jin, squirrels represent the animal kingdom’s best candidate for uncovering drugs since they possess an excellent sense of smell, can maneuver in small areas and can climb to heights that would be inaccessible to dogs.

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