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Rats trained to sniff out gunpowder for Netherlands police

Sept. 5, 2013 at 1:57 PM

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A Netherlands police department said specially-trained rats are being prepared to sniff out gunpowder traces at shooting scenes.

Rotterdam police said five rats -- named after famous fictional detectives Derrick, Magnum, Poirot and Johnson & Johnston -- have been successfully trained to sniff out gunpowder traces and officials are now planning to use the rodents in their investigations, DutchNews.nl reported Thursday.

"You can use rats for detection by smell," trainer Monique Hamerslag told the Volkskrant newspaper. "Think about drugs, money, bodies, blood, fire accelerants and explosives."

Hamerslag said she came up with the idea of training rats for police work when she discovered rats were being used to locate landmines in Africa. She said the animals are more portable than dogs and have a stronger sense of smell.

Police spokesman Marc Wiebes said the rats will be put to work identifying people who have recently fired off guns following shooting incidents.

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