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Finally - a Good Use for Giant Rats!


Here's a typical "good news/bad news" scenario, courtesy of COVID-19.


The good news: scientists say giant rats could be trained to sniff out people who are infected with the virus, the way some dogs are reportedly being trained to do.


The bad news: they're giant rats.


Researchers at the University of Glasgow say giant pouched rats, which can grow up to three feet in length, have been able to detect other zoological diseases that can spread to human populations. Such sniffers would be handy for getting a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic, to be sure, though arguably three-foot-long rats lack the friendly face a dog has.


Speaking of rats and COVID-19, experts looking at data say there hasn't been a feared explosion in the rat population since millions of city dwellers stopped commuting, though pest control experts saw a spike in rat-related pest control calls in 2020 in cities like locked-down New York and Tokyo.


Science News reports that while there are fewer people around to spot the critters in parks and other places they usually see in their commutes, there has been a boom in calls made to residential areas near shuttered restaurants. In other words, with closed eateries cutting off the rats' ready supply of chef-prepared leftovers -- think Ratatouille without the animated charm -- the rodents are sniffing out food sources closer to, and in, urban residences.


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