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‘The ground is just moving with thousands of mice’: Australia hit by rodent plague

Mice can produce up to 500 offspring per season and intensive baiting programmes have had little success

Ella Glover
Friday 19 March 2021 22:57 GMT
Thousands of mice overrun Australian farm

The worst plague of mice in decades has overtaken a number of rural communities in New South Wales, Australia.

The plague follows a bumper grain harvest and threatens to destroy hay bales made by farmers for the winter. 

A video filmed in the town of Gilgandra shows thousands of rodents swarming around a farm. 

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), farmer Ron Mckay said: “At night the ground is just moving with thousands and thousands of mice just running around.”

On average, mice can produce up to 500 offspring per season and intensive baiting programmes have had little success in driving down their numbers. 

At least three patients in the local hospital have been bitten by the mice and supermarkets have had to store food in sealed containers. 

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“You can imagine that every time you open a cupboard, every time you go to your pantry, there are mice present,” said Steve Henry, a rodent expert.

“And they’re eating into your food containers, they’re fouling your clean linen in your linen cupboard, they’re running across your bed at night.”

Alan Brown, a farmer in Wagga Wagga and member of the NSW Farmers Association, told The Guardian that one farmer he had spoken to had lost a crop worth up to $300,000 (£168,000) to the mice.

Mice plagues are frequent in Australia. The worst, which took place in 1993, caused an estimated $96m (£54m) in damage to crops, machinery and animals.

Locals are hoping for heavy rain to drown the mice in their burrows. 

Additional reporting by Reuters

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