Australia ‘mouse plague’ sees rodents crawling into beds and biting occupants

‘In my family farm we put out two billion baits ... and they are all gone’

Joe Middleton
Wednesday 26 May 2021 11:38 BST
New South Wales farmers are plagued by unfathomable levels of mice

Farmers in Australia are having to put the legs of their beds in buckets of water to stop mice biting them while they sleep.

Millions of mice are running riot in the eastern part of the country and are causing extensive damage to farms by eating crops and attacking grain silos.

The rodents have even been finding their way into hospitals, schools, and have forced supermarkets to put food in sealed containers. Videos posted on social media have highlighted the sheer magnitude of the problem with thousands of mice seen scurrying around farms.

Xavier Martin, a grain farmer from the Liverpool Plains of New South Wales told The Telegraph: “People are putting the legs of their beds in buckets or pots of water, but the mice are still climbing curtains, jumping onto their beds and biting them.”

Mr Martin said the issue was mainly in New South Wales, but extends into Queensland and Victoria, with various other hotspots.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “As they run out of food and cannibalise each other they do decline but in other places they are just absolutely exploding and its not thousands its billions.”

“In my family farm we put out two billion baits mainly by aircraft, and we are only moderate sized farmers and they are all gone, the baits have all been all taken.

The sheer scale of the problem was revealed after a map was created by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) called MouseAlert.

The website and app allows farmers to report mice sightings in their area so the problem can be tracked. A report on the website in March warned that the mice have “continued to breed through summer/autumn, to reach a peak at sowing of winter crops.”

Mr Martin added: “In daylight you go out and you might only see a a few here and a few there until you disturb them in the crops or the paddock or in the shed.

“But at night time they are just going in both directions across the road and if you stand still they will climb up your trousers, the outside if you’re lucky, the inside if you’re unlucky.

“When you drive down the road in the light patches you only see a few fir pelts quashed on the road but in some of the thicker patches you can barely see the tar, its just all fur.”

The scale of the problem has prompted the national government to seek an emergency permit to grant a poison called bromadiolone for use. However environmentalists have warned that this could harm other animals, such as eagles, that eat mice.

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