Parts of Australia are battling a “plague” of rodents.
Large rural portions of inland New South Wales and Queensland are being overrun by millions of mice, which have taken over farmland, homes, stores, hospitals and cars. They’re also eating everything in sight.
Reuters reported that the region’s bumper grain crop led to the surge in rodents.
“You can imagine that every time you open a cupboard, every time you go to your pantry, there are mice present,” rodent expert Steve Henry told the wire service. “And they’re eating into your food containers, they’re fouling your clean linen in your linen cupboard, they’re running across your bed at night.”
They’re also leaving behind haunting videos and images:
At one farm, the mice ate through hundreds of thousands of dollars of hay bales, reducing them to mounds of dust in a matter of weeks.
“It’s a real kick in the guts,” farmer Rowena Macrae of Coonamble told Queensland Country Life. “It’s so very hard to watch.”
“They stink whether they are alive or dead, you can’t escape the smell sometimes,” Pip Goldsmith of Coonamble, who has trapped thousands of mice, told The Guardian Australia. “It’s oppressive, but we are resilient.”
Lisa Gore of Toowoomba told the newspaper that her 12-year-old son caught 183 in a single night.
“It’s like his job at the moment,” she said. “He is very proud of himself.”
Local reports said the mouse population continues to grow and efforts to poison the rodents had started to backfire as dead critters were turning up in water tanks. One homeowner in Elong Elong investigating a water blockage encountered a “revolting” smell, according to Australia’s ABC News.
“We always filter the water going into our house from the tanks so for us, personally, we feel we’ve covered our precautions so we didn’t notice anything with the taste,” Louise Hennessy told the news agency. “But the smell of the mice at the top of the tank was so disgusting.”
Public health authorities are now warning of the potential for bacteria in the water if dead mice remain in the tanks.
Authorities said a drop in temperature or a heavy rainfall could wipe out most of the mice at any time.