March 14, 2008 / 3:04 PM / 9 years ago

Why does the Kremlin want 3,200 female white mice?

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Wanted: 3,200 white mice. Must be female. No more than 18 grams.

Purchaser: the Kremlin security service.

So why does the Kremlin guard, which is made up of former spies and elite troops who protect President Vladimir Putin, want to buy so many female white mice?

"Everyone is wondering what they are for. But if they were ordered then that means they are needed," an official from the service said with a gruff chuckle.

He refused to speculate about whether the mice could be used to feed to the falcons which are kept in the Kremlin, the seat of Russia's rulers, to scare off crows.

"There are more important things to think about," he said.

Some Russian media have also speculated the mice could play a role in testing toxic substances or indicating the presence of dangerous gases.

Documents posted on the official government tender Web Site on Friday showed the Kremlin guard has found a supplier and will pay 475,776 roubles ($20,080) for the mice.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Philippa Fletcher

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