A mouse problem has reached plague proportions in North Burnett, Queensland, with locals reportedly bitten in their sleep and produce shops overrun with thousands of rodents every night.
- Residents of North Burnett catch thousands of mice every week on properties and inside homes
- Fruit and vegetable stores sell mouse bait “by the pallet” and struggle to keep up with demand
- Winter and summer weather produced perfect conditions for a plague of mice
Susie Capewell, who lives on a property just outside Gayndah, said she caught nearly 1,000 mice in the past two weeks.
“Every time you sit in the living room, slam, the trap goes off and you have to get up and go empty it,” she said.
“We mostly get them at night…the more traps you have, the more you get.”
Gayndah’s vet, Nathan Hitchcock, said the plague was spreading from Monto to Biggenden.
“I see mice running on the roads at night…and in the past few days I’ve seen some during the day as well, which is very unusual. They’re everywhere.”
Ms Capewell said residents were growing increasingly frustrated as the mice entered homes.
“I spoke to a few people in town, one person who got bitten in bed on his hand, they were chewing his hand off,” she said.
Food destroyed by mice
Gayndah Norco Rural Stores owner Brett Jordan said the problem has been going on for several months, but rodent numbers have increased in recent days.
“They normally disappear with the rain, but they got worse,” he said.
“We lose stock every night, there are just thousands of them.
“We’re not going to order food anymore because we lose it as fast as we get it.”
Mr Jordan said growers who usually plant oats at this time of year wait because they fear mice will eat the oat seeds before harvest.
He said the store was struggling to keep up with sales of traps and bait.
“We sell rat bait by the pallet,” he said.
Perfect conditions for mice
Dr Hitchcock said last year’s mild winter, coupled with a wet summer, resulted in strong grass growth and perfect conditions for a plague of mice.
“Grass does two things – it provides the mice with cover, which protects them from predators. And it also provides them with this huge food source,” he said.
Mr Jordan said locals had contacted North Burnett Regional Council for help.
“Everyone keeps telling the council to do something, can they do a baiting program. But there haven’t been any responses yet,” he said.
North Burnett Regional Council has been contacted for comment.
Dr Hitchcock has also warned pet owners about the safe use of bait, after a spike in dogs and cats was recently killed.
“If you think your dog ate mouse bait, take him to the vet as soon as possible,” he said.
Symptoms of rat bait poisoning include bleeding gums, lethargy, and vomiting blood.
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