ShedBlogs New South Wales Mouse Plague Report June 2012
Every few years the dread of all farmers and residents of rural areas of New South Wales is the persistent pitter-patter of thousands of tiny paws, as loud as a thousand whispers. The common house mouse (mus domesticus) which would normally constitute nothing more than a household nuisance and a farm yard pest in small controllable numbers can be the cause millions of dollars worth of damage when their populations balloon to into vast hordes of voracious omnivores which consume or gnaw on anything and everything in their path.
Although floods have washed over many parts of New South Wales which would lead some to believe that mouse populations have been kept in check, this would be a false assumption. Mice are a shrewd bunch and are natural survivors in almost all climes, their ability to quickly multiply in numbers in the absence of natural predators and abundance of food sources can easily grow a nuisance into a pestilence. Surviving mouse populations from the floods are not expected to balloon into plague like proportions that will threaten the majority of the state. This does not mean however that everyone is out of the woods, pockets of surviving mouse populations in places with the suitable habitat and large food stocks may still experience infestations. These isolated pockets of vermin are now at the hands of the individual farmers and communities to assess the possible threat of their ballooning populations.
Isolated incidents are expected to sprout around the rural areas of the state especially where the mouse population is allowed to exponentially increase due to the availability of a favourable habitat as well as food sources. Although there will always be a small resident population it is important to keep this population in check as mice can quickly multiply when conditions are favourable.
The mitigation of ballooning mouse populations is accomplished by proper monitoring of mouse populations by individual farmers and communities. Proper agrarian hygiene is most cost effective way of preventing a costly battle with waves of voracious rodents, the elimination of their habitats found around the periphery of the paddock. Checking the property for the presence of mice as well as their estimated populations is very important as early detection and action are much cheaper and effective than mitigation of a horde during plague events. The presence of a sizable population of mice may be observed in several burrows in the perimeter of the paddocks or along the hedges where they find suitable nesting areas. Runways will often also be observed, the better trafficked and well defined the runways the larger the resident -population of mice in the area.
Another important factor is the amount of food that is left behind when harvesters have come through and reaped the crop. Harvesters leave around 30 kilograms of grain per hectare which can easily feed a large colony. Food is an important factor in the ability of a small group of mice to grow into an invading army and as such it is extremely important to eliminate this as it will keep the population of the mice at bay.