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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Technology Update

Air Date: Week of

Cynthia Graber reports on a new test that will reveal if rats or mice are hiding nearby.


GRABER: Soon there may be nowhere to hide, if you're a rodent. Most people don't like the thought of sharing living space with mice and rats. They leave droppings and trails of urine, and the animals are known to carry such infamous diseases as the hanta virus and the bubonic plague. But sometimes these creatures are not so easy to spot. So scientists in England have developed a test that can detect the presence of rats or mice even if there are no visible signs. It works sort of like a home pregnancy test. Here's how: In order to tell each other who's around, rodents put down a scent glued together by proteins. The new test uses antibodies that change color in the presence of the rodent proteins. In experiments, areas exposed to the pitter-patter of little mice feet showed a trail of purply blue paw prints. By using the new test, anyone on the lookout would know if there are rodents around, how they sneaked in, and where they're hiding. That's this week's technology update. I'm Cynthia Graber.



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