Via the Washington Post and the BBC, apparently, comes a story that’s just too good to check. The Post cites a BBC translation of an article in the Iranian newspaper Resalat:
“A few weeks ago, 14 squirrels equipped with espionage systems of foreign intelligence services were captured by [Iranian] intelligence forces along the country’s borders. These trained squirrels, each of which weighed just over 700 grams, were released on the borders of the country for intelligence and espionage purposes. According to the announcement made by Iranian intelligence officials, alert police officials caught these squirrels before they could carry out any task.”
OK, the chances of this story being factual are, um, not good. But the idea of surveillance rodents isn’t as far out there as you might think. There was a 2002 paper published in Nature that described rats that could be remote controlled from up to 500 feet away. Sanjiv K. Talwar, the lead author of that paper, told National Geographic that the rats could be used for land mine detection, collapsed building searches and other situations deemed too dangerous for humans.
Still, there’s no way this story of spy squirrels could be true… right? I mean, everyone knows the cutting edge of animal weapons systems is the ill-tempered badger.
photo used for illustration above: USFWS