By / February 13, 2023

Chinese Police Recruit Squirrel Squad to Search for Drugs

A Chinese city has bolstered its police force with a new drug-sniffing squirrel squad. The squirrels, which are much smaller than the dogs typically used in drug searches, can easily slip between boxes, crawl into tight spaces, and otherwise reach places that are inaccessible to their canine counterparts.

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Police Recruit Drug-Sniffing Squirrel Squad

A police dog brigade in the city of Chongqing in southwest China now has a new subdivision of six red squirrels to help them detect drugs in the nooks and crannies of warehouses.

In a video published by the Chinese media outlet People’s Daily, the squirrels can be seen scratching boxes and climbing over various objects. The squirrels flit between boxes and containers of similar sizes and colors, then stop to sniff them.

Squirrels Smaller and More Agile Than Dogs

Chongqing police said in an interview with The Paper, that the squirrels are small and agile and are able to search small spaces in warehouses that dogs cannot access. The squirrels have been trained to use their claws to scratch boxes to alert their handlers if they detect drugs, police said.

Speaking to the Global Times, Yin Jin – a police dog trainer assigned to train the squirrel team – said the training program developed for squirrels in Chongqing can also be used to train other animals to detect drugs.

Squirrel Squad to Aid China in Enforcing Zero-Tolerance Policies

China has a zero-tolerance policy on drug use and trafficking. In 2021, a Chinese embassy spokesman called drugs “the common enemy of mankind.”

China’s drug-sniffing squirrels may be the first of their kind. But animals and insects other than dogs have also been used to detect dangerous substances such as explosives.

Not the First Use of Unconventional Animal for Sniffing Things Out

In 2002, the Pentagon backed a project to use bees to detect bombs. Meanwhile, Cambodia has trained rats to help sapper teams search minefields for buried explosives.

It is unclear whether Chongqing police intend to increase the number of drug-sniffing squirrels. It is also unclear how often the squirrel squad will be used to detect illegal substances.

(Featured image by James Frid via Pexels)

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