Why does the Kremlin want 3200 white mice?

Russia's Federal Guard Service (the Russian equivalent of the American Secret Service) has apparently placed an ad on a government website for 3200 "white, female, laboratory mice... between sixteen and eighteen grams" to be delivered by the end of the year. This ad has generated a flurry of international media speculation. Why, everyone wants to know, does the Russian Guard Service want these mice?

One theory is that the mice will be used for experiments -- perhaps to test substances such as the radioactive poison polonium210. This seems plausible.

However, the mainstream media is leaning toward the theory that the mice will be fed to the falcons used to keep crows away from the Kremlin. This doesn't make any sense to me at all. Why specially order white, female lab mice if you're just going to feed them to birds?

Emil Steiner of the Washington Post's OFF/beat news writes: "The story seems too ridiculous to be real. And yet almost everyone writing about it seems to take at face value that the guard wants these mice." Steiner also raises the question of why the Guard Service would have placed a public ad in the first place. Surely it has the means to discreetly find 3200 mice.

I'm guessing we might never know the answer to this mystery.


Posted on Tue Mar 04, 2008


Well, the specification for female ones implies that they are either intending them to be used as breeding stock (which could mean that existing stocks have become unsatisfactory, possibly due to inadvertant inbreeding), or that they are *specifically* testing something regarding the female reproductive system - effects of toxins on fetal development, or a new form of birth control. Since this is the intelligence agency, I'm inclined towards the former.

Assuming it's legit, of course, which is debatable.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Tue Mar 04, 2008  at  01:47 AM
Or the specification for only female ones might mean that they want to be sure that there is no breeding going on. And by choosing all female rather than all male, maybe they're counting on female mice being less tempermental or something like that.

If this story really is true, I can think of one other possible use for them: a sort of biological alarm to detect toxic fumes.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue Mar 04, 2008  at  04:23 AM
Since this is an intelligence agency, it's possible they are not actually shopping for mice but sending a coded message of some sort.
Posted by Phred22  on  Tue Mar 04, 2008  at  05:09 AM
As a snake owner, I prefer to get females because the males piss stinks BAD. So its not necessarily for breeding purposes, they just don't want the Kremlin to smell like mouse piss.
Posted by Craig  on  Wed Mar 05, 2008  at  08:37 AM
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