Sniffer mice are being trained in Israel to detect explosives at airports

As the cat-and-mouse tussle with terrorists intensifies, rodents could be enlisted to keep the skies safe. An Israeli security firm claims that mice can detect explosives far more effectively than humans, dogs or machines. If the system proposed by X-Test is adopted, airport security checkpoints of the future will deploy small, furry creatures to trap terrorists.

The firm’s vice-president, Yuval Amsterdam, is a former bomb-disposal expert for the Israel Defense Forces. He is now developing what he says is the most sophisticated explosive detection system ever conceived – with mice at its heart. “They’re as good as dogs as far as their ability to sense, but they’re smaller and easier to train,” Mr Amsterdam said.  “They’re cheap, and you don’t have to take them for a walk. Once they are trained, they become bio-sensors.”

The mice will not run loose over passengers and their bags, but will be contained inside cages at security checkpoints. They will discreetly sniff people and possessions for the substances they have been trained to identify, and signal when they detect a threat. Because mice can be trained in large numbers by machine, they can produce much more reliable results, said Mr Amsterdam.