As a recovering procrastinator, I am big on last-minute gift ideas.
Here’s one for Father’s Day, and there is still plenty of time. Hours even.
So what’t the gift?
A Manly Rat. That’s also smart.
Specifically, an African giant pouched rat, about 30 inches long including tail. These are he-man rats, the kind that send cats fleeing. What’s more, we’re not talking about just any giant rat, but an educated one with the rodent equivalent of a Ph.D.
A Dutch company, Apopo, has trained these giant rats, which have poor sight but excellent noses, to detect landmines in Africa. The rats are too light to set off the mines, but they can explore a suspected minefield and point with their noses to buried mines. After many months of training, a rat can clear as much land in 20 minutes as a human can in two days.
In addition to earning their stripes as mine detectors, the giant rats are also trained in health work: detecting cases of tuberculosis. Possible TB sufferers provide samples of sputum, which are then handed over to the rats to sniff out. This detection process turns out to be much faster than your typical microscope examination. A technician with a microscope in Tanzania can screen about 40 samples a day, while one giant rat can screen the same amount in seven minutes.
For a donation of $36 you buy a year’s worth of bananas for Ratso. And you can do it with the click of your mouse (sic), in plenty of time for Father’s Day.
Speaking as a Dad I’d much rather get this than a tie, or even (gasp) a bottle of wine.
Here’s your link to donate.
Happy Father’s Day.