Rat plague: Australian farmers have warned about growing animal population

Australians in nearly every state have been told to prepare for another potential rat plague with experts sounding the alarm.

Australian rat experts are warning breeders to remain vigilant against rising numbers of animals across the country, with another potential plague on the horizon.

Last year, according to some estimates, rodents spread to regional communities causing damage to NSW wheat farmers worth more than $ 1 billion.

Twitter account MouseAlert has identified growing populations in Central Queensland, Southern Riverina in NSW, Northern Valley in Victoria, York Peninsula in Southern Australia, and Western Australia.

CSIRO rat expert Steve Henry said farmers are aware of the dangers of a rat plague, but they should be proactive to stop another disaster this year.

“The outbreak has had such an impact on people that they don’t really want them to come back, so they’re really watchful of them,” Henry told Nine.

A wet start to the year saw summer harvests late, and there are early reports that an abundance of feed has fueled a bumper fall breeding season.

“But if you get a low winter survival rate, when they start breeding next spring, they start from a much lower population base and the rate of increase is slower,” Henry said.

NSW farmers are reminding farmers to use chewing papers on their properties to monitor rodent activity, available on the Grains Research & Development Corporation website.

“What we don’t want to see is a repeat of last year’s rat plague, so please if you see something, say something,” Xavier Martin, vice president of NSW Farmers said earlier this week.

CSIRO researchers found in a laboratory study that the mice were able to survive by eating bait that was supposed to deliver a lethal blow.

The study’s findings came just as the rat plague began to gain momentum last year and sparked concern that current grooming measures are inadequate to control a pestilence.

“They lived to tell the story and did we really think about what was going on?” said Mr. Henry.

An emergency use permit has been introduced for double strength zinc phosphide bait at 50 grams per kilogram and remains the preferred option for mice bait for farmers.

Originally published as Experts warn farmers to prepare for a second rat plague