MI5 hatched plot to train gerbils as mole catchers

Usage of gerbils to catch terrorists at airports considered in 1970s

source: Michael Smith
Daily Telegraph June 30 2001 p3

Britain’s MI5 agency studied a plan in the 1970s to use gerbils at airports, to detect incoming terrorists and spies, according to MI5 director general, Sir Stephen Lander. Gerbils can sense adrenalin changes, which affect the smell of sweat, and they were used for this purpose at Tel Aviv airport in Israel. The gerbils were put alongside security checks, and trained using Pavlovian methods, to press a lever to obtain food, if they sense raised adrenalin. The gerbils were unable to tell whether adrenalin rates were high because passengers were fearful of air travel, or whether they were terrorists, however, and the Israelis abandoned the idea, as did MI5. Research was carried out during the 1970s for the Mounted Police in Canada on the feasibility of using gerbils to detect terrorists.