Map reveals horrifying extent of nightmare mouse plague

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A confronting map has revealed in close detail the enormity of the horror mouse plague infiltrating homes and threatening to ruin the livelihoods of Australian farmers.

Stretching from northern parts of Queensland down to Adelaide in South Australia, the crushing extent of the rodents' war path has been detailed on the CSIRO's Mouse Alert map. 

High mouse abundance, represented by a cluster of red dots on the map, has been recorded throughout northern, central and southern NSW.

A supplied undated image obtained Tuesday, May 1, 2021 shows dead mice at a property in Gilgandra, NSW. Source: AAP
A supplied undated image obtained Tuesday, May 1, 2021 shows dead mice at a property in Gilgandra, NSW. Source: AAP

The map on Monday showed the highest prevalence of mice in parts of the Central West and northern NSW, including Moree and Liverpool Plains.

Levels were also moderate to high in many regions of southern Queensland, north-western Victoria, parts of South Australia and around Ravensthorpe in Western Australia. 

In Queensland, the abundance of activity was noted in areas across the Darling Downs and Goondiwindi, while in Victoria, the worst hit areas were Wimmera and southern Mallee.

There were also moderate mouse numbers in South Australia's North Adelaide Plains, Yorke Peninsula and western Eyre Peninsula.

Mouse plague map developed by the CSIRO.
This CSIRO map revealed which areas had been worst hit by the horror mouse plague. Source: CSIRO/FeralScan

Such high numbers of mice spread across sparse areas of the country at this time of year was a huge concern, according to a report by the CSIRO and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

The rodents, which have continued to breed through summer and autumn, have caused critical damage to maturing summer crops in northern regions, and will likely cause damage at sowing for winter crops in all regions, the report, published in March, read. 

Experts have yet to uncover what recent wet weather and flooding will have on the out-of-control mice population. 

Numbers were expected to reach their peak by the end of May, with concerns the cold winter weather would cause them to travel towards cities in search of warmth and food.

Makeshift mouse trap from Dubbo farmer in NSW.
One Dubbo farmer filmed mice being plunged into a big bucket of water that acted as a makeshift mouse trap. Source: Facebook

Locals "psychologically exhausted" by plague

CSIRO mice expert Steve Henry said the impact - both psychological and financial - on affected communities is immeasurable.

Some farmers gave up on their summer crops and just ploughed them back in, and one he spoke to was emptying her 20 mice traps at least three times a night.

"I'm even hearing stories about local councils have trouble dealing with all of the dead mice that people are putting in their garbage bins because they're starting to make the streets smell," he told AAP last month.

"People are psychologically exhausted by this - the mice are just everywhere."

"Every time you want to try and get some clean linen out of the cupboard, you've got to take it out, wash it, hang it on the line, and put it on your beds straight off the clothesline because if you put it back in the linen closet the mice are going to be into it again."

"No one ever forgets living through a mouse outbreak, it is such a distressing thing."

Baiting is essential to the success of the winter crop he says, but the mice plague will eventually take care of itself.

"Mouse numbers crash when numbers are so high that disease is spreading (and) they're running out of food."

"They start to turn on themselves and they eat the sick and weak ones - they also start to turn on the babies - and then at that point the population crashes away almost overnight."

- with AAP

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