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It catches 1,000 mice a day.  Next year, the rodent plague may worsen in Australia.

It catches 1,000 mice a day. Next year, the rodent plague may worsen in Australia.

Colin Tink stands upright in his giant mousetrap and takes the rodents into a basin of water to drown them out. Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

Sydney (Washington Post:) Australia is having an extreme museum year. Next year could be just as bad or even worse.

Colin Tinke, 63, has been farming his whole life, but never before has he suffered from the rat plague that is now ravaging the grain belt of eastern Australia. Nor the drought that preceded the mice. It turned fertile cornfields into desolate spaces surrounded by clouds of dust.

When it finally rained last year, Tink thought everything would turn out for the better.

Rainfall resulted in record harvests throughout the spring and summer months (September to March in the Southern Hemisphere). The silos were filled with grain, the barns were filled with hay. Tink harvested enough hay to feed their cows for two years.

Then the mice came. thousands of them.

Smell and frustration

Sometimes pests burrowed deeply into hay bales. Unless they eat it spoils anyway, because urine seeps into the lining. The stench is sour. It irritates the sense of smell and gets stuck in clothes.

– Tink says it takes courage. We are back to zero.

Colin Tink has caught about 7,000 mice in a homemade water trap on his farm near Dubbo, New South Wales. Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

drowning mice

But the farmer is not the one who gives up. He made a giant mousetrap out of a shipping container he would normally use to drive fodder to livestock. Now he’s luring mice into the box by scattering the grain on the ground.

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When they fall into the trap this way, Tink and his five-year-old grandson Jock take the broom and sweep the young rodents toward an aquarium that he puts into the open end of the container. Mice drown in the water and quickly drown. A thin layer of dishwashing liquid on the surface makes them unable to get out.

The first night they took 7,000 mice, and 3,000 the next. Now the rate is 1,000 each night.

We can’t eliminate it, but maybe we can slow it down a bit, says Tink.

Mark Ailes, owner of the Royal Hotel, holds a dead rat in Yuval, New South Wales Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

Remember the seventies

Australia suffers from rat plague approximately every ten years. Older farmers remember the invasion in the 1970s. As you walked across the yard, you felt like the ground was moving under the soles of your shoes. Someone says that he was very close to mice.

One of the factors contributing to the occurrence of this plague is changing methods in agriculture. To keep Australia’s dry soil moist, farmers are planting new crops directly on the old remains left in the ground. This gives the mice more places to hide and more food.

Authorities in the state of New South Wales obtained 5,000 liters of bromadiolone, a poisonous bait. Researchers fear that the venom will also kill other animals that feed on mice – wedge-tailed eagles, owls, snakes and dragons, a type of large iguana.

Rat poisons and traps ran out of an agricultural equipment store in Wellington. Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

There is a shortage of traps

Mice are also considered carriers of viruses that can be fatal to humans. The Queensland Health Service reports that the number of leptospirosis cases has doubled this year compared to the same time last year. It is a flu-like illness that can lead to meningitis, kidney failure, bleeding and difficulty breathing.

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Mousetraps became scarce, so farmers had to invent their own methods of catching mice. Many make improvised traps from barrels and buckets. At the bottom they put goodies that entice mice to compete and die.

Some farmers enlisted the help of experts. One of them is Henry, a government researcher who travels around the country advising people on how to deal with rodents.

Dead and drowning rats float in a homemade trap near Dubbo, New South Wales. Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

talking about mice

In Conample, west of Sydney, Henry recently inspected a haystack of 3,000 round bales that had been destroyed by mice. At today’s prices, it’s worth more than 600,000 crowns, but in times of drought, the price will double, according to Henry.

When I get up in the morning, I talk about mice, and when I go to bed at night, I still talk about mice, he says.

At the Royal Hotel in Yeoval, about 320 kilometers west of Sydney, owner Mark Iles says he caught mice with his bare hands as they rushed over his pub counter.

the smell of death

Greg Young is a 40-year-old farmer in Gilgandra, 430 kilometers west of Sydney. To deal with the rat’s attack, he had to burn his crop and set up countless traps.

On a recent Saturday, things got so bad that Younghubind sent his wife and daughters away for the weekend. The museum invasion dominated.

Farmer Greg Younghusband burned about 130 bales of hay that were destroyed. His farm is located in Gilgandra in New South Wales. Photo: Matthew Abbott, The Washington Post

The rodents were in his lair. They were at home. They destroyed the washing machine, dryer and two refrigerators. They were chewing on his sofa, the coffee machine, and his daughter’s bed. They were under the furnace. He could hear it in the walls, and he could smell it. It was the smell of death and corruption. Everywhere.

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Don’t get rid of the smell because it dies inside the walls. They die under the stove. It’s the worst stinky smell out there. It’s absolutely unbelievable, says Yongegbend.

Take beer and burn hay

He equipped himself with 40 traps, and between two in the afternoon and two in the evening, he caught 450 mice. Then he gave up and went to bed. – I emptied a trap and prepared it with a new taste. I hadn’t turned around before, before it hit hard again.

One night not so long ago, Yanhedependen set fire to a pile of 130 hay bales that had been destroyed by mice. He had a beer as he watched the flames light up the evening sky. So far it has lost about 1,500 bales of straw.

Usually, a mouse epidemic ends when the animals multiply to the point that they cannot survive, according to Henry. Devastated by disease and lack of food, rodents attack each other. Sick and weak smoke first.

The pest expert fears that if the temperature doesn’t drop enough for the winter, many will survive the colder months. Thus, they can prepare the ground for a more explosive infestation of mice next spring.

Exclusive Norwegian right: Aftenposten