Australia is home to some of the scariest creatures in the world. But nothing is more destructive than the humble house mouse, whose plague is raging across large farms and threatening the villagers.
Farmers in New South Wales, the hardest-hit state, warned that these furry critters could lose 1 billion Australian dollars (US$765 million) in crops and poison bait this season.Residents of rural cities and towns fought the army of wild rats for six months. The army of wild rats ate the wires of household appliances, polluted water sources, and even Bitten The patient on the hospital bed.
Scientists say that after years of favorable weather conditions, the plague has been supported. drought And the second largest grain harvest in the country on record.
The proposal by national authorities to allow farmers to use bromadiolone to “freeze” rats has sparked a heated debate about its environmental impact.
The A$50 million mouse control plan announced this week includes a plan to develop “gene drive” technology to sterilize mice, a wild species that arrived in Australia by the First Fleet.
“Mouses are everywhere. A few weeks ago, they bit the wires of our dishwashers and caused flooding,” said Xavier Martin, a grain farmer who lives near Gunnedah, a town in northeastern New South Wales. “Even when we are talking now, I can hear them scurrying around the roof and walls.”
He said that the plague threatens his winter crops and the mental health of farmers, who have absorbed the devastating effects of drought, bushfires, floods and Covid-19 in recent years.
Martin, the vice chairman of the New South Wales farmer lobby, said he opposed the use of bromadiolone because of concerns that it would kill wild animals that eat dead mice through secondary poisoning.
However, the New South Wales government has sought “emergency approval” from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Drug Administration to allow farmers to use bromadiolone, a poison that kills blood by preventing blood clotting.
New South Wales Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said: “This is equivalent to using napalm rats in rural New South Wales.”
Dramatic scenes showing rats sweeping food stores, fields and houses raise the political risk of the state government. The plague not only has a costly economic impact on farmers, but it also threatens public health.
“No one will forget to have experienced the plague,” said Steve Henry, a mouse expert at Csiro, an Australian scientific research institution. “They will enter your house, every cupboard, your bed and your pantry-almost everywhere.”
He added that mouse urine may transmit serious diseases to humans, including leptospirosis and lymphocytic choroid meningitis, which may cause symptoms similar to meningitis.
For grain farmers Terry and Nicole Klante, who live near Dubbo, New South Wales, the risk of their children and employees contracting the disease is worrying.
“Everything in our workshop has been touched by rats, so we must constantly reiterate that employees should wash their hands because everything we touch has the possibility of getting sick,” Nicole said.
She said that although thousands of rats are captured and killed every day, more rats are still coming in.
Rats reproduce fast. A pair of mice can breed 500 cubs in one breeding season, and the breeding season usually lasts from summer to autumn, Henry said.
Predicting how long the plague will last is difficult because it may end abruptly due to disease, food shortages and cannibalism.
Henry said: “When their food runs out, rats start to attack sick and weak rats. They prey on small rats and the population quickly disappears.”