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Australia’s newest problem: mice plagues

First Australia had a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks. Now, the country has an entirely different ‘absolutely unprecedented’ problem

A mouse sits on hay at Bruce Barnes’ family’s farm near Bogan Gate, Australia, on May 20, 2021. Mice have plagued Australia.
A mouse sits on top of hay stored by Bruce Barnes on his family’s farm near Bogan Gate, Australia, on May 20, 2021. First Australia had a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks. Now, the country has an entirely different unprecedented problem.
Rick Rycroft, Associated Press

Australia is overrun with its worst plague in decades: millions and millions of mice. The eastern region of New South Wales has been swarmed by an immeasurable number of mice, reports The Associated Press.

  • State officials called the plague “absolutely unprecedented,” reports the AP.
  • The mice will cost over half a billion dollars in crop damage, according to the AP.

How bad is the mice plague?

It’s a “nightmare,” says the New York Post.

The mice are everywhere. They’ve been found in homes, barns, vehicles, furniture, ceilings, schools and even hospitals, reports The Guardian. The rodents have completely overrun many agricultural and rural regions of the state.

  • One family’s house burned down after mice chewed electrical cables, causing sparks that led to the house fire, reports the New York Post.
  • The mice have bitten people. Worse, their urine and feces can contain bacteria harmful to humans. Some people have already gotten sick from contaminated water or other foods.

“We are facing an absolute economic and social crisis in rural and regional New South Wales,” said Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall via the AP.

  • The rodents have devastated crops, with officials predicting that the plague will destroy about $775 million in agricultural crops.

People have complained the most about the stench. The plagued area constantly smells of mice urine and decaying mice carcasses, says the AP.

Why are the mice so bad?

Wet weather in New South Wales produced the region’s larges grain crop ever recorded, reports Reuters. The crop has provided ample food for mice and likely contributed to the sudden plague.

  • Mice naturally reproduce incredibly quickly, says The Guardian.

However, according to the AP, rodent plagues come and go with no clear explanation.

How can people get rid of the mice?

“We need something that is super-strength, the equivalent of napalm to just blast these mice into oblivion,” Marshall said via the AP.

The federal government has not yet given emergency approval for use of the poison out of concern that other animals, such as eagles and family pets, will also die from eating it, reports the AP.

At this point, there is no indication of when the mice plague will end, according to The Guardian.