fight the plague
The elements of a farm disaster
Australia suffers from rat plague every decade or so. Some of the older farmers remember an invasion during the 1970s where the ground felt as if it was moving, it was dense with mice.
One contributing factor is changing agricultural practices. To conserve moisture in Australia’s arid soil, farmers plant new crops directly on old stems left in the ground.
This means that mice have more places to shelter – and they have more food.
The New South Wales government has secured 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) of a deadly bait called bromadiolone. Scientists worry that the venom may inadvertently kill other species — wedge-tailed eagles, owls, snakes, and goans (large lizards) that feed on abundant rat prey.
Mice also carry viruses that may be fatal to humans. Queensland health authorities say the number of cases of leptospirosis – a flu-like illness that can lead to meningitis, kidney failure, bleeding and respiratory complications – nearly doubled in 2021 compared to this time last year.
Summon in a mouse whisper
The worst smell ever
Rat epidemics usually end in the end of the world, according to Henry, as the population grows too large to support itself. Due to diseases and running out of food, insects turn on each other, starting with the sickest and weakest.
He worries that if temperatures don’t drop sharply enough during the winter, many will survive the cooler months, preparing for an even more explosive outbreak next spring.