Perfect storm for Riverina mouse plague, CSIRO warns

Riverina mouse plague could be on the way, CSIRO warns


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MICE IN THE MILLIONS: Farmers and residents should take preventative measures to avoid a pile-up like this. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

MICE IN THE MILLIONS: Farmers and residents should take preventative measures to avoid a pile-up like this. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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Single pair of mice can give rise to 500 offspring in a season, CSIRO researcher says.

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Farmers in the southern parts of the Riverina could see a mouse plague this cropping season with a higher population count than normal. 

CSIRO researcher, Steve Henry, said a mouse plague could potentially occur due to a number of contributing factors. 

While Wagga is expected to escape the worst of the infestation, smaller surrounding towns might not be so lucky. 

“There’s a moderate chance of high numbers of mice in the southern areas of the Riverina, so those areas around Coleambally and Deniliquin,” he said.

“There are already reports of numbers higher than normal through those areas, but not so much around Wagga.”

Mice are able to breed from the age of six weeks and are able to give birth to a litter of up to 10 offspring every 20 days. 

Combined with the fact a mouse can fall pregnant immediately after giving birth and populations can explode. 

“A single pair of mice can give rise to 500 offspring in a season,” Mr Henry said.

“The economic threshold for damage is 200 mice per hectare. 

“If a single pair is giving rise to over 500, it doesn’t take very long to get economic damage in the crop.

“A plague is characterised by 800 mice per hectare.”

Last year mouse plagues in parts of Victoria damaged crops to the point where farmers had to re-sow crops multiple times. 

Chairman of Wagga’s NSW Farmers Association branch Allan Brown said in certain conditions mice can breed in overwhelming numbers leading to a plague. 

“When the conditions are right, when there is food available, they are capable of breeding and it can see a huge build up of numbers and that’s when the problems occur,” he said. 

“They stink, there’s huge numbers of them and the main problem is the damage to the equipment.

“The key things are to remove as much food as possible, work on keeping the numbers down through poisoning and trapping.” 

Mr Brown suggested spreading mice bait directly after sowing in the field as a measure against the breeding, as well as baiting vehicles to prevent mice chewing through electrical cords. 

Both Mr Brown and Mr Henry said that the damage done before their demise can be extreme and costly. 

A couple of factors will contribute to the end of the plague such as the spread of disease and a lack of food leading the mice to eat each other. 

The story Perfect storm for Riverina mouse plague, CSIRO warns first appeared on The Daily Advertiser (Suzuka2).

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