We all saw the horrendous scenes of plagues of mice coming out of Eastern Australia in the past few months. Some of the horror stories included people coming home to mice-infested houses, people being bit in hospital beds, power going out after wires were chewed to pieces and classrooms becoming mouse playgrounds. Farmers have been particularly hard hit by the rodent’s devastation with damage to crops being estimated to reach over AU$1 billion.
Australians are no stranger to mice plagues. Historical data shows evidence of mice infestations going back to the early 1900s. However, many farmers have flagged that this particular infestation is the worst in living memory. The conditions that brought forth this mouse plague have been described as a “perfect storm” of weather conditions. After years of intense and devastating drought, culminating in the catastrophic bushfire season in 2019-2020, Eastern Australia began to experience a much-needed reprieve in high rainfall levels in agricultural areas. These conditions produced bumper crop harvests in the spring of 2020 – to the delight of farmers across the country.
However, mice being opportunistic feeders, thrived in these conditions. In fact, scientists use rainfall levels is used as a key predictor in mice population modelling. The abundance of crops provided a smorgasbord of food choices for the rodents. The population of mice boomed, and we began to see the biblical scenes coming from the media as these mice roamed the countryside in search for their next meal.
NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall urges farmers to be ready for ‘spring surge’. Following the destruction to crops, NSW farmers can now claim up to $10,000 for the zinc phosphide baits that are being used to kill the rodents. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said zinc phosphide rebates are now available as part of the government’s $150 million mice support package. People in the affected areas are also encouraged to actively check their homes for mice, focusing on gutters/downpipes and water tank strainers where dead mice can get caught and contaminate water supplies.
With the spring harvest approaching, scientists are predicting the mice to stick around. Bushmans are encouraging farmers and those living in affected communities to continue their defenses.
- Lay out your baits (check government rebate support for this)
- Secure crop stores– above ground if possible
- Seal any holes or gaps inside your home
- Store food inside thick, well-sealed containers and clean up any spills/leftover food promptly to avoid attracting rodents.
- Regularly check your water tank inlets and overflows
- Think about investing in a water filter
Water tank inlets and overflows should have screens installed to prevent entry of mice and other small animals and leaves. Check your water tank regularly to ensure there are no gaps.
Rainwater can be by disinfected by bringing it to a rolling boil and being allowed to cool before drinking. A kettle with an automatic shut off switch can do this.
If you suspect that water in your rainwater tank has been contaminated, it can be disinfected with powdered swimming pool chlorine (calcium hypochlorite, 65% available chlorine) or liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, 12.5% available chlorine). You should not use stabilised chlorine (chlorine cyanurates). Ready reckoner tables are available to help guide the amount of chlorine needed for different water tank sizes.
If sludge is present in your water tank it should be removed by siphon or by complete emptying of the tank and cleaning.
Bushmans are the leading expert in water tanks in Eastern Australia. We have proud partnerships with Landcare Australia and rural outlets across the country. Bushmans has deep roots in agricultural communities across Australia who share our ethos of Saving Australia’s Water. If you are interested in Bushmans range of water tanks, both poly tanks and steel tanks – check out the range here!