An out-of-control infestation of mice in the eastern states of Australia is making life difficult for local farmers, grocers and community members.
Live Science reports the infestation is so bad that some unlucky farmers have lost their entire harvests to the mice. Hotels in the infested areas are closing their doors because the unwanted guests are dirtying their rooms and grocery stores are reporting nightly extermination sessions that tally up to 600 mice.
On March 20, ABC News uploaded a video on Twitter that puts the infestation in perspective:
Steve Henry, a researcher at Australia’s national science agency, attributes the plague to an unusually abundant grain harvest, Live Science reports. According to the site, the surplus of grain drew in a surplus of mice earlier in the season than anyone had anticipated.
“They start breeding earlier and because there’s lots of food and shelter in the system,” Henry said (via Live Science). “They continue to breed from early spring right through into the autumn.”
Alan Brown, a farmer from New South Wales, believes the plague is just starting, Science Times reports. According to the site, one pair of breeding mice can produce a new litter every three weeks, potentially birthing over 500 offsprings in one season.
HuffPost reports that efforts to poison the mice are backfiring as mouse carcasses started appearing in water tanks. According to the site, public health authorities are now issuing warnings about the potential for bacteria in the water.
Over a dozen mayors in New South Wales have reached out to the state government to declare the infestation an official plague, The Guardian reports. The mayors are also asking for help in the form of additional bait but no aid has been delivered so far, according to the site.
“I can’t understand why (they won’t declare it a plague). It’s worse than the 1984 mice plague,” said Al Karanouh, the mayor of one New South Wales town (via The Guardian). “I think they don’t want to do it because they’re going to have to fork out a lot of money.”
Matilda Boseley wrote for The Guardian that the government “may be wary of spending up to tens of millions to try to eradicate the mouse plague, when a cold snap or heavy rains could wipe them out naturally.”
HuffPost reports that a temperature drop or a heavy rainfall could drastically reduce the infestation.
“If that rain comes our way that will certainly put a big dent in it,” Karanouh said (via The Guardian).