Australia is battling an army of rats that have invaded New South Wales and are now advancing into southern Queensland, Victoria and the southern states – damage is already estimated at several million dollars. A new plague epidemic is already afflicting a country that has been hit by unprecedented fires and droughts between 2019 and 2020 and in recent months due to devastating floods as well as the Covid pandemic. This was reported by Australian press sources that document daily rodent infestations with photos and videos posted by residents on social media.
Summer rains, which brought record floods and crops after years of drought, are the cause of the current scourge. The areas most affected by the drought that have characterized the past few years in particular suffer from it: mice can survive droughts and reproduce quickly when there is plenty of food and water again. The reproductive cycle of mice is early and rapid: they generally begin to breed at six weeks and give birth to six to ten young every 19-21 days. After giving birth, the female can immediately become pregnant with the next litter. Thus, in the most populous state of New South Wales, among the hardest hit by fires, droughts and floods, millions of rats run through the fields and enter homes day and night, devouring all the food they find, damaging clothes and biting people, even the sick in hospital beds, as well as invading classrooms.
Rats cause another, more dangerous, invasion: the invasion of snakes, in particular the species, one of the most venomous, known as the brown snake in eastern Australia. The abundance of rodents, their preferred prey, prevented the natural cycle of hibernation for reptiles that are now ubiquitous, and the constant hunting of mice, on the streets, in homes and stores. If the snakes are well fed, they will multiply more and more, causing fear of a new plague in the coming months. To get rid of what many now consider a real nightmare, citizens are striving hard in the hope that they will be able to get rid of harmful carnivores. First of all, they had to secure their food reserves inside closed boxes and their clothes in enclosed spaces containing a metallic substance that irritated mice. To avoid their nocturnal attack, the feet of the beds are placed in buckets of water or sand, in the hope that the expulsion method will work.
Booming in demand, traps and poisons are nowhere to be found in many locations, forcing residents to devise DIY solutions, including water traps, and engaging domestic cats in combat. Bradley Wilshire, a farmer near Dubbo, 400km northwest of Sydney, caught more than 500 mice in one night, then shared details of how he built the bucket trap they got stuck in. Manufacturers of rat bait have also been given permission to double the lethality of their products, although this risks poisoning other animals as well, starting with the cats themselves, which eat poisonous rats. In addition to the physical damage, the emotional and psychological impact of the invasion from which it is difficult to defend oneself is beginning to cause anxiety, the end of which is not envisaged at the moment.
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