Note: this Report It contains information and pictures that can be very disturbing to some readers.
Farmers in southeast Australia are living a nightmare.
An epidemic of millions of mice (rats) has spread across the region in recent weeks, causing massive damage to crops and putting the mental health of many people in crisis.
“Living with mice every day makes you feel dirty,” says Melanie Morris, who lives in New South Wales.
“The floor is full of rats,” says Brody Thomas Roche. “Simply inevitable.”
Experts and residents consider this the worst epidemic they have faced in many years in the region, after a prolonged drought has already hit the local economy.
Precisely because of the end of the drought, with the rapid recovery of the farms, the mice began to reproduce en masse.
Norman Morris, a farmer in Gilgandra, says his hay barn was destroyed by rats, causing him losses equal to more than 210,000 reais.
“Cars and tractors, whatever they can invade, they invade and nibble on. Wherever they go, they go,” Morris said.
The perfect moment
After several years of drought in southwestern Australia, conditions are now ideal for rat spawning.
There is a lot of food, moisture and less predators.
“We were out of a drought and suddenly things were fine [para os ratos] Very fast. And species that reproduce early, like rats, are really able to take advantage of this situation, “explains Martin Murray, an agronomist in Delongra.
“It will take some time for the rest of the ecosystem to recover and balance the situation,” he adds.
Mice can give birth to a litter of six to ten young in a few weeks. Throughout the breeding season, a single female can give birth to up to 500 rodents.
“In Australia, most regions only have one crop per year. Being invaded in a good year can be a big setback,” Murray explains.
Moeris says the rat infestation has pushed many farmers to the same point they were in the middle of the drought: “I lost a lot of money,” he says.
They walk on the pillow
Lisa Minogue, a farmer in Parmidman Village, says there is no way to catch the thousands of rats on her property.
“We have traps at home, and we put the bait outside,” he explains. “But that only includes part of the mice there.”
“You’re in bed at night and you can hear them running around the room. You hear the sounds as they walk on the pillow.”
This affects people’s sleep and causes a nervous breakdown, as rodents invade homes. They eat food from kitchen shelves, and there are stools everywhere.
Traps can kill hundreds of mice, but residents still have to deal with the stench.
“There is the smell of live mice, but there is also a dead, rotting smell. It’s just horrible, horrible.”
Martin Murray agrees, saying, “This kind of thing wears out more than anything else.”
An uncertain future
The New South Wales government set aside 210 million reais to support farmers who had to spend thousands of dollars on traps.
But there is no help to compensate for all the losses incurred by the farmer and the local economy.
It is speculated that with the advent of winter in the south and the increase in the number of predators, the pest will end up diminishing. But there are no guarantees.
Mice like to make strong burrows in barns and other agricultural structures.
“You have been working hard all your life, trying to keep everything working, feeding everyone and taking care of the land. But they are killing everything,” says Roche with sorrow.