Italian cops seize 235 dead mice set to be eaten in sick Mafia ‘peace ritual’

Italian cops have seized hundreds of mice from local Mafia, who were keeping the rodents to eat them as part of a bizarre peace-making ritual.

Three people were arrested during the police raid, after the officers swooped in on a cannabis farm in southern Italy and found hundreds of the protected dormice on the property.

Several cages full of alive mice were found being fattened up for slaughter, whilst 235 dead carcasses were in the freezer, reports The Telegraph.

The snack is known to be a particular favourite of the powerful Calabrian 'Ndrangheta Mafia clan, who serve it up to guests at reconciliatory dinners.

“When the police have listened to mafia phone calls during investigations into drug trafficking they learned that after disputes between clans they have peace making dinners where they eat dormice," revealed Giovanni Malara, founder of anti-poaching group, Gruppo Adorno.

Despite it being against the law to capture or eat dormice, the rodent is seen as a delicacy in some areas around southern Italy.

Some restaurants deliberately leave its distinctive fluffy tail intact, so diners can tell what they’re eating.

Italy's Il Corriere della Sera newspaper reports that top dogs of the 'Ndrangheta criminal enterprise make their biggest decisions whilst gorging on dormice.

They’re often captured for eating after the winter, when they are still drowsy from hibernation.

The hunters sometimes take young dormice from nests and raise them until they can be served as food.

“It is cruel to hunt them and keep them in cages, it is a mistreatment of a wild animal which is protected by the law,” Francesca Manzia, from Lipu, a wildlife protection charity, told The Telegraph.

But it’s not just mafia in southern Italy who indulge on dormice – the tradition dates back to the Romans and the food is also enjoyed in some parts of Croatia and Slovenia.

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