Our Hero, The Rat

Adopt a Hero Rat and help clear land mines and fight tuberculosis

You’re probably aware that abandoned land mines from our species’ countless, pointless wars remain a huge problem throughout the world. The civilized world got together in 1999 and banned these barbaric weapons. The United States, of course, refused.

In Africa, that continent’s numerous civil wars have left huge tracts of land dangerously littered with land mines that continue to kill at random and without warning.

One of the charities I support is officially called APOPO, but they are marketing themselves as Hero Rat. It’s much catchier! They train the African Giant Pouched Rat (which is a bit larger than our buddies here at home) to sniff out land mines. Rats are highly intelligent and have an excellent sense of smell. They’re also too light to set off a mine if they walk over it. This combination of traits makes them ideally suited to this task.

The Economist recently put together a little slideshow about APOPO’s work:

I wonder sometimes if this blog serves any beneficial purpose at all. It probably doesn’t, you know. I should at least try to directly prevent a little misery in the world by occasionally bringing the efforts of this organization to your attention.

They’re a small foreign charity, so donating to them is actually just a tiny bit more involved than it is with larger organizations. If you’re a U.S. resident, donating directly to them is not tax deductible. Blame the IRS and our serpentine tax laws for that one. However, you can donate to them through an intermediate charity, and that is tax deductible.

You have two choices. You can go directly to their website, click the Donate button, and then follow the instructions for your country.

The simpler way is to go to Global Giving and donate to Hero Rat’s Tuberculosis project. That’s the way I do it. That’s also where the link in my sidebar will take you.

Instead of throwing up your hands in frustration at how screwed up the world is, here’s your chance to help unscrew a small part of it.

22 Responses to “Our Hero, The Rat”

  1. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Donating. AWESOME charity. Those rats are super cute too. I had no idea there were safe animal detectors for land mines. This makes my day. Preventing senseless death, no harm to the animals… This is absolutely fantastic!

    I like how one of the rats was named Michelle Obama. This is something we don’t hear much about, but in many parts of the world, the Obamas are freaking heros. I don’t think there has been anybody on the national “potential presidential candidate” scene in a lot of years with the power to heal our perception in the world than the Obamas are doing right now.

  2. dvsrat Says:

    These are some wonderful rats.

    What the fuck is wrong with this country? How can any sane person oppose a ban on land mines?

  3. Jeff Eyges Says:

    If I understand them correctly, in the US, you have to use one of their foundation partners, such as Global Giving.

  4. Ron Britton Says:

    If I understand them correctly, in the US, you have to use one of their foundation partners, such as Global Giving.

    You only have to if you want the tax deduction. There is a direct link on their page to give them money directly. Global Giving takes a 15% commission. I don’t know what the other charity’s cut is.

    I’m kind of ambivalent about that. I’ve thought about just giving directly and forgetting about the deduction. (If the reason you give is to get a tax deduction, you’ve got a screwed up sense of economics.)

    United Way and other composite charities work the same way. They hand out money to smaller groups, so those groups don’t have to put a full bureaucracy in place themselves to benefit from the larger reach of the bigger charity.

  5. Ron Britton Says:


    What the fuck is wrong with this country? How can any sane person oppose a ban on land mines?

    (I’ve always liked your name, BTW.) The U.S. won’t sign, because we use land mines on South Korea’s border with the North.

    That whole situation is ridiculous. If we ever had a national interest for being over there, it faded away decades ago. To allow a relic of the Cold War to interfere with the benefits of international peace and humanitarian treaties reveals a very distorted set of values.

  6. Jeff Eyges Says:

    There is a direct link on their page to give them money directly

    I couldn’t find it; I could only find the instructions for other countries. They said if you’re in the US, you have to use one of their foundation partners, which I don’t like to do, ordinarily, b/c I don’t like giving these middlemen a percentage. A point or two on a credit card is one thing; 15% is something else altogether.

  7. Ron Britton Says:


    I could only find the instructions for other countries.

    They kind of hide it by not putting it on the Donate page! If you click on their Adopt a Rat button, it will take you a page where you can “adopt” one of their rats. Donating on that page will take you to PayPal. That money (minus PayPal’s cut) goes direct to APOPO.

  8. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Okay, it’s in Euros, and I have to pick a rat.

    Ron, they’re making this MUCH harder than it needs to be.

  9. Ron Britton Says:

    Ron, they’re making this MUCH harder than it needs to be.

    Like I said, they’re a small charity. They don’t have the large fundraising apparatus in place that larger groups do. Look at it this way: They aren’t wasting a lot of money on overhead.

  10. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Really, a couple bucks to Global Giving is not a bad thing. These aggregate companies make it possible for small charities to reach people that have never heard of them. Maybe 15% seems like a lot, but it’s really not. That’s a pretty small cut for the exposure, processing fees, paper work, tax advantages (say what you will about those that don’t donate otherwise, but I don’t care how the money gets there, as long as it gets there), and so on.

  11. dennis Says:

    Thanks for the interesting post.
    I did donate to this worthy cause.

    Other such sites are:
    http://www.Kiva.org for micro lending

    If you want to help diminish world hunger without contributing money and, at the same time, develop your vocabulary:

  12. Jeff Eyges Says:

    Okay, I sniffed around a bit (not unlike a Giant Pouched Rat). PayPal takes out around 9.4% for a typical donation (under 2,500 Euros). However, you can also donate through their US foundation partner, the King Baudouin Foundation (seriously), which processes its online donations through Network for Good, which only takes 3%, which is far more reasonable. Or you can just send a check. I don’t know if KBF takes a percentage, they don’t say. And it’s tax-deductible.

    Fifteen percent is just too much.

  13. Jeff Eyges Says:

    You can also share the YouTube video on your Facebook page.

    (I knew, if given enough time, I’d finally find something Facebook is good for.)

  14. Ron Britton Says:

    Wow. 9.4% for PayPal is obscene. They don’t do anything that deserves that much of a cut. Most credit card processors take somewhere around 3%. Global Giving is at least doing something to justify 15%.

  15. HeroRATs Says:

    Greetings all,

    Many thanks for your support via your blog post @Ron, and for raising awareness about our HeroRATs work sniffing out global problems like landmines & tuberculosis!

    My apologies to those who have found our contribution/payment options difficult. We are working to improve this process at the moment but indeed, as a relatively small NGO without a US office, we are only able to offer tax-effective giving through our partner foundations.

    If you decide to contribute via KBFUS, we ask that you please send us an email to [email protected] to let us know, so that we may thank you properly! You can also email us at the same address if you have any other questions regarding the adoption/donation process, or the HeroRATs in general.

    Thanks again for your interest and support of our work…if you want to stay connected, please feel free to become a friend of HeroRAT on Facebook (www.facebook.com/people/Hero-Rat/654015955), or follow us on Twitter (@HeroRATs) for regular updates on the ground.

    Warm regards from Tanzania,
    The HeroRAT team

  16. S. Says:

    love it! what a great cause.the rat is a real cutie,too.

  17. Jeff Eyges Says:

    9.4% for PayPal is obscene

    It starts out as 3.4%, but they then tack on .35 Euros. I ran some figures quickly; I might have overestimated. It’s a lower percentage for larger donations.

    Yeah, PayPal takes out way too much and does little or nothing in return, but they’re owned by eBay now, and that’s their business model.

  18. Parrotlover77 Says:

    PayPal always took “way too much” but, in fairness, they are far lower than getting your own credit card processing account through a bank.

    The reason PayPal looks as high as 9.4% is because of the flat fee per transaction. That is identical practice to every credit card processor on the planet. Not the exact amount, but the fact that there is a fixed fee for the transaction, plus a percentage that is a cut of the total amount of the transaction.

    Every time you buy shoes, go to dinner, or donate with a credit card, you are giving the recipient some percentage less than the actual cost. That’s just how it works when you transmit money using any method other than cash.

    It shouldn’t surprise anybody. 🙂

    So cool HeroRat came by to say hi! I’m fanning that Facebook page right now. Very cool.

  19. Parrotlover77 Says:

    * far lower

    I should qualify that. They are far lower for those who do not process a large quantity of transactions. Of course it’s cheaper for Sears to have their own credit card processing account through whatever financial institution they use. But PayPal beats the pants off $200/mo, PLUS per-transaction fee, PLUS percentage. 🙂

  20. Jeff Eyges Says:

    PL, it varies with processing company. Believe it or not, one of the cheapest has been Bank of America. The fly-by-night processors who actively solicit business have a lot of hidden fees.

  21. Lindsay Says:

    What a cool charity! And the rats are so cool too. For xmas I like to give in my siblings names to a charity…I think they would be thrilled to know the money went to these little guys!

  22. Brian Says:

    On a related note, here’s a really good atheist store I found. Well, primarily atheist and science stuff…

    Aristotle’s Muse

    Maybe wearing an atheist T-shirt won’t change the world, but then again, maybe it could.