Mouse Plague – Australian Farmers and Communities on the Alert

Over the last 6 months the Australia farming community has experienced floods, fires and locust plagues, and now they are facing a mouse plague. Already farmers in Western Australia, South Australia, NSW and Queensland are experiencing a mouse invasion of plague proportions, with rodents eating their way through crops and moving into suburban homes.
Every year there has always been regular localised mouse plagues, but this year is different. The last mouse plague was 20 years ago, and cost Australian farmers nearly 61 million dollars. With drought breaking rain falls and a bumper grain crop the conditions have been just right for a major mouse plague.

The recent mouse plague started in Western Australia in the northern wheat belt and in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. The plague has been slowly moving up the grain belt up into the Darling Downs in Queensland. South Australia's Eyre Peninsula had an aerial baiting program to deal with their problem and still the damage to crops was up to 30 per cent.

Rentokil’s Pest Control Product Division has had a substantial increase in farmers wanting rodenticide products. With many suburban homes also being invaded by mice, pest control technicians are in high demand. Rentokil Pest Control has 18 pest control branches and operates in all States and Territories across Australia, all branches have reported a higher than usually increase in calls from customers wanting to use their services.

Historically, rodents have been responsible for enormous losses of food, whether it is crops or food in homes and they pose a serious threat to health. Rodents consume and contaminate vast amounts of food and their constant gnawing can cause serious damage to a range of materials including electrical wires and cables which has even resulted in fire damage. Rodents also transmit diseases such as food poisoning (Salmonella).

The common house mouse (Mus musculus) also referred to as the field mouse tend to live for about 1 year, and may have 6-10 litters per year, each with 5-6 young. When controlling mice most home owners try DIY products but these normally fail especially when mice are in plague proportions, they then have to call a professional pest controller. The most cost effective and efficient method in controlling rodents is the use of baits (anticoagulant rodenticides). There are many types of bait formulations and your professional pest controller can advise you of the best type to use for your situation.

With the current mouse plague farmers are being warned to prepare themselves and to expect some economic damage to crops unless baiting is carried out.



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