An apocalyptic plague of rats is plaguing the lives of citizens in eastern Australia. There are rats in the cupboards. Rats in the streets. Thousands and thousands of rats in the barns...
A farmer interviewed by The Guardian described the rodent frenzy as "an absolute plague," more severe than anything locals have seen in decades. And remember, we're talking about Australia, home of platypuses and giant spiders. Asher Wolf @Asher_Wolf Mouse plague in Coonamble, video from the 6th Feb uploaded by Alice McGuire //t.co/yWTZOngIB9 2:49 PM - Feb 10, 2021 55 38
According to local media, farmers lost entire crops, hotels had to close and some establishments even captured more than 600 animals in a single night.
This could be just the beginning of an 'apocalyptic plague' of rats
According to Steve Henry, a CSIRO researcher, the infestation is likely the result of an unusually large grain harvest, which attracted more hungry rats to area farms earlier in the season than normal.
"They start breeding early, and because there is so much food and shelter in the system, they continue to breed from early spring through fall," Henry said.
Alan Brown, a farmer in the New South Wales town of Wagga Wagga, said the plague was likely just beginning, considering the rats' rapid rate of reproduction; a single breeding pair can produce a new litter every 20 days or so, generating more than 500 pups in a season, according to Reuters.
Image by Karsten Paulick by Pixabay
How does this affect the local population?
In addition to destroying crops and grain stocks, generating harm to commerce and residents, rat pests can also be vectors of disease, according to a 1998 Queensland government report.
"Perhaps the most common pathogens are Salmonella bacteria, which can spread to a variety of animal species (including humans)," the report said. "The bacteria are usually transmitted to people through food contaminated with infected urine or feces and can cause acute gastroenteritis."