Rat Who Was Awarded Gold Medal For Landmine-Detecting Heroism Retires

by : Julia Banim on : 05 Jun 2021 12:41
Rat Who Was Awarded Gold Medal For His Heroism RetiresAPOPO/PDSA

A rat who left his tiny pawprints in history on account of his life-saving work in Cambodia is now preparing for a well-deserved retirement.

Magawa the African giant pouched rat was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for life-saving bravery back in September 2020, becoming the very first rat to be honoured in this way.


Over the course of his five-year career as a ‘HeroRAT’, Magawa courageously sniffed out 71 landmines as well as dozens more unexploded items in Cambodia, helping to save many human lives. Now, at seven years old, it’s time for him to rest.

You can find out more about Magawa’s extraordinary life below:

As reported by BBC News, Magawa’s handler Malen has explained that the rat is now ‘slowing down’ as he approaches his twilight years, and that it’s important to ‘respect his needs’.


Malen said:

Magawa’s performance has been unbeaten, and I have been proud to work side-by-side with him. He is small but he has helped save many lives allowing us to return much-needed safe land back to our people as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

HeroRATs like Magawa undergo specialist training to sniff out a chemical compound within explosives, gaining certification after a year’s worth of training. Once they come across an explosive, they will know to scratch at the top to sound the alarm.

Magawa the rat (APOPO)APOPO

Magawa is reportedly able to search a field the size of a tennis court in the space of just 20 minutes, a feat that would take a human using a metal detector up to four days.

Last week, scent animal organisation APOPO revealed that the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) had assessed a new batch of up and coming HeroRATs, all of whom had passed ‘with flying colours’.

Magawa will reportedly keep his position for the next few weeks, giving his mentorship to the young recruits and helping them to settle in.

All the very best to Magawa as he dusts off his toothpick-sized golf clubs and eyes up some titchy-tiny cruises.


Featured Image Credit: APOPO/PDSA

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, Now


APOPO and 2 others
  1. APOPO


  2. PDSA/YouTube

    HeroRAT Magawa is awarded the PDSA Gold Medal

  3. BBC News

    Magawa the hero rat retires from job detecting landmines