It's good to know that even if it's a tiny little rat, rewards are forthcoming for those who try to help.
Magawa, a giant Gambian pouched rat, has been awarded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals Gold Medal, which is awarded for "animal gallantry and devotion to duty." In particular, Magawa received the medal for helping to clear landmines in Cambodia.
All told, Magawa has managed to clear over 141,000 square feet of land in Cambodia of unexploded landmines and ordnance left behind during the Cambodian Civil War that raged from 1967 until 1975. Magawa detected 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance in his work by APOPO, formed in 1997 and whose motto is "We Train Rats To Save Lives".
APOPO refers to their trained rats as 'HeroRATs', with full training taking nine months on average and around €6,000 to train a single rat. Essentially, the rats are trained using scent conditioning from birth, in that if they're given a target scent and they find it, they receive a reward from the trainer. APOPO claims that a single rat, trained effectively, can clear 2,200 square feet in under 20 minutes, and indicates the scent of explosives by scratching on the ground.
Once they're marked by the rat, technicians move in with metal detectors before a demining team arrive, excavate the mine by hand, and then destroy it safely.
Magawa is the first rat in the PDSA Gold Medal's history to receive their award. Speaking to Sky News, Amy Dickin of the PDSA said that the rat "will no doubt enjoy a watermelon or two over the weekend, I believe that's his weekend treat. And he loves a banana when he's on shift as well so I'm sure he'll be back to work performing his life-saving duties and we're so immensely proud."