If you give a mouse a cookie — they might take over your town.
Southeast Australia has been overrun by an ongoing plague of mice, which have attacked livestock, invaded residential homes and depleted supplies of mouse-killing accessories.
“If you start noticing them, the numbers can build up very, very quickly,” Councillor Reg Kidd, mayor of Orange, New South Wales, told Prime7 of the pestilence. Orange is one of many New South Wales towns that have been overrun by the the opportunistic vermin over the past two days.
What’s being described as a bone-chilling “carpet of mice” appears to be tied to the weather. Rain early last year may have led to a breeding frenzy — followed by a drought that potentially helped the populations flourish, said one store owner who has sold out of traps.
Skin-crawling footage — taken at night — exposes a biblical swarm of rodents scurrying across a road like a furry flash flood. Meanwhile, one family reported culling as many as 200 in less than two days.
The infestation has gotten so bad that one farmer in the rural town of Coonamble was forced to sleep in her adult children’s vacant bedrooms, reported Australia’s News.com.
“I can’t sleep here [in her own room], but you can’t sleep in the car because they were in the car, too,” said Anne Cullen, whose fun-sized squatters have decimated her stockpile of hay. “I found my [daughter‘s] bedroom to have the least mouse poo and it was the most sealed-off room, so I’ve been sleeping in there.”
The pests are more than just a mere nuisance. Mice are known to make nests in hay, where their feces can cause illness and even death in livestock that ingest it. They’re known to carry and spread leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease that can cause everything from meningitis to liver failure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Unfortunately, staunching the scourge has proved Sisyphean task with exterminator outfitters reporting that they’re struggling to meet demand for traps and poison.
“We’re very concerned because we can’t buy bait,” lamented a spokesperson for a store in Orange. “Our suppliers can’t supply it at the moment.”
To circumvent the shortage, freelance verminators have devised alternative ways to stem the tide. One family managed to drown 250 of the critters in a bucket of water, while Mayor Kidd is urging residents to plug holes in their homes with steel wool. In addition, NSW farmers have reportedly implored the Environmental Protection Agency to lift sanctions on the use of mouse-deterring phosphide.
“We’re seeking that effectively so that people can pre-bait before they plant,” a spokesman told PRIME7.
Nonetheless, purging the pests will likely be an uphill battle as mice start breeding at six weeks of age and have a litter of up to 10 pups every 19 to 20 days. Indeed, Cullen claims that while she’s killed thousands of the rodents with poison, she doubts that her efforts have made a “dent,” News.com reported.
Unfortunately, experts state that the besieged rural residents might have to wait for a cold snap or heavy rain to eliminate the plague.