The Ultimate TSA Showdown: Dogs, X-Ray Machines, or Mice?

Travel News — By Candice Walsh on February 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Well here’s a fun piece of information: Israeli scientists are training mice to detect security threats in airports, and they’re far more effective than both x-ray machines AND dogs.

The scientists have created a detector, sorta like a full-body scanner, but containing mice. Eight of them, and they’re highly trained, skilled professionals. They work four-hour shifts, their only reward being the occasional puff of air injected into their containers so they can breathe.

When the mice detect drugs or explosives, they trigger an alarm. In the long run, the teams of mice will be more cost and time effective: they require less training, and they don’t need to be tempted with treats, like dogs do. Suffocating is a good enough incentive, it seems.

The idea might take awhile to catch on. After all, dogs have been used for years, and they still work better one-on-one rather than the “multiple sensors” team of mice. On the other hand, the team yields “superior overall results in one-tenth the time, at far lower cost.” The mice can also be used in more impractical settings, like a crowded subway station.

If you’re worried about diseases, don’t be. The mice are painstakingly monitored from birth in a clean laboratory, and are constantly monitored by veterinarians.

Then, of course, there’s still the argument for the x-ray machines. They’re intrusive, but they yield results, right? Who cares about the radiation!

Yes, we are placing our national security in the hands of rodents. The kind of rodents we often consider pests, the ones we trap underneath plastic containers and have no qualms of killing as long as they’re no longer in our homes. Still, this is method is definitely better than training snakes, or killer pigs, right?

[image: flickr/me’nthedogs’]

Tags: airport security, Israeli mice in airports, mice used in airport security, TSA

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