The Age of White Mice 

The greatest risk to submariners in early vessels was from petrol vapour, which was not only highly inflammable but also toxic. 

White mice are more rapid in their reaction to such toxicity, and small cages containing white mice were provided to warn the crew if the concentration of vapour was dangerous.

If the mice 'turned up their toes' it was time to get some fresh air into the boat.

The scheme was never a great success because submariners were too fond of the mice, which were carefully kept away from sources of fumes. Many were given away to friends on shore to ensure a longer and happier life. Every mouse was listed as Admiralty property, and there seems little doubt that the mortality-rate was exaggerated to conceal the 'deserters'.


This page last edited - 09 December, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.