A squad of 6 drug-sniffing squirrels is China's latest line of defense against drugs
- A Chinese city is training squirrels to sniff out drugs.
- Six squirrels now make up a sub-unit of the Chongqing city police dog brigade.
A Chinese city is adding a new squad to its police force: drug-sniffing squirrels.
The police dog brigade in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing now has a team of six red squirrels to help them sniff out drugs in the nooks and crannies of warehouses and storage units.
In a compilation of video clips released online by the Chinese media outlet People's Daily, the squirrels are seen scratching boxes and clambering over a variety of items. In some clips, the squirrels are seen darting between boxes and canisters of similar sizes and colors, before pausing to sniff them.
The Chongqing police told the state-linked media outlet The Paper that these squirrels are small and agile, and able to search through tiny spaces in warehouses and storage units that dogs cannot reach. The squirrels have been trained to use their claws to scratch boxes in order to alert their handlers if they detect drugs, the police said.
"These squirrels have an acute sense of smell. But in the past, our training problems for small rodents was not developed enough to attempt a program like this," Yin Jin, a police dog handler assigned to train the squirrel squad, told The Paper.
Speaking to the state-linked Global Times, Yin said the training program developed for the squirrels in Chongqing can also be used to train other animals to sniff out drugs.
China's drug-sniffing squirrels may well be the first of their kind. But animals and insects other than dogs have also been used to detect dangerous substances like explosives.
It is unclear if the Chongqing police intends to expand its force of drug-sniffing squirrels. It is also unclear how often the squirrel squad will be deployed.
Representatives at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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