Southern Australia gripped by a mouse plague

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As if a decade of drought and a spate of natural disasters is not enough, Australian farmers are now facing what many call a mouse plague.

The drought conditions have now broken, but when the rains came for many it was too much too quickly. The extended wet period over eastern and southern Australia has provided favourable weather so promoting mouse breeding within the heavy stubbles in the fields which offer a haven from predators. Plagues of mice now extend from Queensland to New South Wales and into Victoria and South Australia.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of new crops have been devoured in the worst mouse plague since 1993. Farmers warn the infestation could be more costly than a drought. Little has been spared as the rodents have swarmed on sheds, silos and freshly-sown seed.

One farmer in South Australia is astounded by the numbers, saying “You come out here in the night time and it”s just literally a moving mass of mice in their millions.” Farmers are rapidly reaching a point where on-farm pest control is almost impossible.

To gain some idea of these epic mouse proportions click here to watch a short film posted on You Tube.


Mouse plague

But it’s not just farmers who are affected. Mice are also causing major problems in urban communities.

Farming groups are asking for mice, when in plague proportions, to be recognised as a national pest – this would allow the Government to allocate funds towards control. So far a mouse plague working party has been established.

What is not helping control is a bottle-neck in bait production. Frustrated farmers are even looking to illegal methods to control the mice.

One desperate farmer set baited spring-loaded traps in his car. This caused a niffy problem when the mice died behind his dashboard and he couldn’t retrieve the bodies. He said he had to turn the car heater up to speed up decomposition.

Another unfortunate side effect has been an influx of household pets at vets having been struck down after eating baits.

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