news

"Check in on your country friends." Right now there's a mice plague ravaging eastern Australia.

There are thousands of them. 

They're destroying crops, gnawing their way through months of cafe and supermarket stocks, and inundating homes, hospitals and hotels right across inland New South Wales and parts of Queensland.

Mice infestations are a natural occurrence in this country, but what we're experiencing right now is different and our country friends are not okay.

For those of us creeped out by ONE mouse (*shudders*), this is literally the stuff of nightmares.

Watch: This was filmed on a farm near Gilgandra. Post continues after video.


Video via NSW Farmers, Twitter.

It's been described as a plague of "biblical proportions" or a "carpet" of mice. It's the worst infestation we've seen in Australia in decades.

They emerged after a bumper grain harvest and have been leaving a trail of destruction since July 2020 in some regions, with the current deluge of rain sending them indoors in even larger numbers. 

The smell is unbearable, they breed at unprecedented rates and locals are finding them in their beds and running through their walls and ceilings. 

Mice start breeding at six weeks old and can have a litter every 21 days. Local media has crunched the numbers and calculated that a pair of mice can produce up to 500 offspring in a season. Terrifying.

As TV producer Chezzi Denyer, who lives with her husband and three daughters in Bathurst, NSW, wrote on Instagram last week, "We are NOT OK! Alright, so I’m kinda joking.. kinda not.. but you still need to check in on your friends who live in the bush.

"We are being INUNDATED by mice in proportions I’ve never seen before. Last night I found my cooking thermometer had been eaten through (after I removed it from my roast pork), and this morning we’ve found a mouse nose/snout in our cutlery drawer. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We’ve had mice eating through wall battens, living throughout our pantry, through the kids school bags, scuttling under and over our beds... I’ve found mouse poo in my laundry hamper, in my SHOWER, YUK! I’ve even found mouse poo in my slippers."

A grocer in Gulargambone told the ABC they were catching between 400-600 mice a night.

"It's been pretty terrible this past month or so. It's getting worse here. They are doing a lot of damage - we have thrown away around $20,000-$30,000 worth of stock so far," he said.

Three hospital patients have been bitten while being treated for non-mouse related reasons in Tottenham, Walgett and Gulargambone and there's been one report of a rare mouse-related illness known as lymphocytic choriomeningitis [LCM].

The Guardian reports a Queensland farmer who used to fly Black Hawk helicopters has permission from the NSW Government to fly a drone that drops poisoned bait on farms that want his help. 

ADVERTISEMENT

One woman in Albury wrote on social media that it "looked like the ground was moving under her headlights as she drove up to her place". 

It's bad. Really bad. And locals are calling on the state and federal governments to offer some kind of rebate to help them control the problem.

"I've been asking for assistance in meeting the cost of baits - and that's just not people on farms that's also people in town, in businesses, a lot of people are on limited or fixed incomes and the cost of keeping up the baiting is just crippling them financially," Roy Butler, Member for Barwon, told the ABC.

ADVERTISEMENT

Locals have reported finding poisoned mice in their water tanks leading to fears of contamination. 

NSW Farmers president James Jackson told DW "the mice situation is only getting worse."

"Farmers need some more control options. We are requesting that an Emergency Use Permit be issued for Zinc Phosphide to treat seed," he added, according to Yahoo News.

So check in on your country friends. 

They're not only being overrun in their homes by rodents, many farmers and small businesses - already feeling the effects of drought and COVID-19 - are losing a whole season's worth of income.

Feature image: Chezzi Denyer/Twitter @aboutregional.