Protecting Dogs From Pests and Wildlife: A Pet Owner Blog

Dicing With Mice: Tips on Tackling a Rodent Plague in Your Home

by Courtney Wheeler

Of all the bizarre natural phenomena occurring in Australia, the mouse plagues are perhaps some of the most disturbing, and potentially damaging. These tremendous swarms of house mice occur in the summer months, and usually affect Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, although Western Australia has also seen mouse plagues in the past.

What is a mouse plague, and what causes it?

Essentially, a mouse plague occurs when favourable conditions, such as high rainfall, lead to an exponential explosion in the numbers of house mice in an area. These mice are generally nocturnal and live in burrows or underground, but when the population becomes too high for local food and shelter sources to cope, these mice come above ground in swarms of thousands to search for food. As you can imagine, the damage and detritus left behind by these ravenous little herds of critters can be enormous.

The affected areas are usually rural, with discarded seed and crops from farms providing the food the mice need to reproduce. The mice do not limit their search for food to farms and barns, however; the kitchen of the average home is an enticing larder to these mice, and homeowners in affected areas can see their homes invaded with masses of rodents. Homesteads are particularly at risk if they do not dispose of food waste securely, or if they grow vegetables or other edible plants on their land.

How can you prevent a mouse plague from damaging your home?

The bad news is that if a mouse infestation has already entered your home, damage is already being done. However, the public has more information than ever before about when, where and if a mouse plague is likely to manifest. If a mouse plague is predicted in your area, or you have already noticed increased amounts of rodent activity on your property, you can take the following measures to prevent them infesting your home:

  • Poison—This is the only way to put a significant dent in a mouse population. Killing mice in your home with poison is a simple matter of poisoning bait and leaving it out overnight. Be prepared; you will have a significant number of mouse carcasses to clean up. Try to use a poison that either kills quickly, or in a matter of days when the mice are more likely to have moved on. If the poison kills the mice while they are taking shelter inside your house, they can leave rotting carcasses beneath floors and inside walls, an unpleasant proposition for everyone involved.
  • Trapping—Traditional mousetraps may come in handy, but deploying them in large enough numbers to fight a mouse plague is difficult, time consuming and inevitably rather gory. Talk to companies like All Seasons Carpet Cleaning & Pest Management to learn more about your options.
  • Perimeter baiting—Applying fast acting poison to bait, and leaving this bait in a perimeter around your land, can help kill mice before they make it into your home. Try to match the amount of bait you leave out to the size of the local mouse population, as small amounts of bait may be overwhelmed, while larger amounts of bait may pose a hazard to birds and other animals.
  • Clean out your pantry—If you have a pantry containing large amounts of dry foodstuffs, such as rice, keep it as tidy and as organised as possible. Never leave food on the ground, and make sure all foods are as securely bagged or packaged as possible.
  • Animal vs. animal—Obviously cats are a significant deterrent to mouse plagues entering your home, but ruminating animals, such as sheep and goats can also help, as grazing animals reduce the amount of food left behind for the mice.