Are animals spying for the CIA?


Do you ever feel like animals are spying on you? Is that bird in the window listening to your conversations? Does the cat snoop through your e-mail while you're at work? Perhaps, in your calmer moments, you chalk it all up to paranoia and move on with your day, but I've got news for you: That squirrel may be wearing a wire.

Don't believe me? Well, you need look no further than Iran. According to the Associated Foreign Press, authorities "arrested" two suspected spy pigeons near a uranium enrichment facility in October of 2008. And no, that's not intelligence slang -- they arrested actual birds, each with suspicious "metal rings and invisible strings." What's more, this was hardly an isolated incident. In 2007, Iranian authorities reportedly captured 14 squirrels armed with state-of-the-art espionage equipment along their borders.

Animal spies are hardly a new innovation. After all, carrier pigeons have long been used to deliver messages. The CIA reportedly experimented in the 1960s with a cat named Acoustic Kitty (a case that was, sadly, far more monstrous and cruel than it was cute) and Britain's MI-5 attempted to train gerbils as spy and terrorist detectors in the 1970s.

Combine all of this with recent advances in the creation of surgically altered, remote control animals and the future of spying looks rather bizarre and cruel if you ask me. Isn't human technology impacting the environment enough without (literally) stuffing it into the heads of pigeons and rats?

Go undercover at HowStuffWorks.com: How Spy Flies Will Work How Spy Gadgets Work How Spy Gear Works How can you train honeybees to sniff for bombs?


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.