Those still stumped on what to buy for their loved ones this holiday season, might consider, adopting and gifting a HeroRAT for just $7 a month.
HeroRATs are specially trained, landmine- and tuberculosis-sniffing rats developed by the Anti-Personal Landmines Removal Product (APOPO), a Dutch not-for-profit organization founded in 1997 by Belgian product designer Bart Weetjens. APOPO raises and trains the rats for landmine and tuberculosis detection in Africa.
APOPO offers diagnostic services via African giant pouched rats, which are common in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the world's largest rodents, they are almost 3 feet long and weigh about 4 pounds, living up to eight years without susceptibility to tropical diseases.
Not only are the super rats intelligent and trainable, they're faster than humans at detecting explosives and disease. HeroRATs can check 100 phlegm samples in a span of 20 minutes, whereas a lab technician might examine 25 samples in a day.
An estimated 450,000 Africans died from TB last year. Landmines also pose a threat to several African countries and others outside of Africa that have endured civil wars and might still face the risk of unexploded landmines.
APOPO claims to have increased clinical TB detection by 40% since 2007.
The U.S. is currently testing HeroRATs as a solution for illegal wildlife trafficking, according to Atlas Obscura. Medically, they might have applications for detecting common cancers and degenerative neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
HeroRATs might also be used after disasters to locate buried survivors.
When adopting a HeroRAT, one can name it and follow the adopted rat's progress on APOPO's website.