ITV News Senior Correspondent Paul Davies reports on the mouse infestation which is ruining crops and causing misery for farmers across Australia
A plague of mice is rampaging through south-eastern parts of Australia, gnawing through cables, burning homes and shutting down communications.
Farmers say they have been petitioning the government to act for months, and a $50 million package to fight the mice scourge was announced earlier in May.
But the infestation continues to spread in the meantime, just as farmers were beginning to recover from a recent drought and last year’s bushfires.
Xavier Martin, the vice president of the New South Wales Farmers’ Association, told ITV News the mice are “getting into everything”.
'They’re just running about everywhere'
“So, we’re seeing in some parts just an explosion in mouse numbers and rats and others we’ve seen a decline,” he said.
“When they run out of food, when they run out of seeds to eat they start cannibalising, they start eating each other.
“They’re pretty disgusting animals and of course they’ve taken over a lot of our homes, our sheds, our vehicles, our tractors, we’ve had machinery burn.
“We had a house burn just north of us last night that was apparently due to mice.
“Look, even in this house here they ate the hose at the back of the dishwasher, so when the dishwasher ran it flooded the kitchen.
“They shut down 44 of our telecommunication towers on Monday across the southern half of New South Wales.
“They shut down one of our key government servers in one of the departments today so they couldn’t respond.
“The mice are into everything. If I walk out of the door there now and stand still they’ll climb out the outside of my trousers and inside of my trousers, they’re just running about everywhere.”
It comes as experts warn that the mice plague could be headed for Sydney within weeks, with winter frosts forcing them into warmer regions, according to 7 News in Australia.
Rain and cooler temperatures were hoped to put a significant dampener on their numbers ahead of the sowing of the winter crop, however both have had little impact.