Grey nomads still ‘traumatised’ by previous mice plagues are being warned they might have to share their campsites with scurrying visitors again this year.
While Covid lockdowns may be starting to ease in much of regional New South Wales, the rodent invasion doesn’t look like it will be doing the same.
Earlier this year, flooding helped reduce plague numbers in some parts of the north west of the state, but agronomists are starting to see movement again.
A bumper winter crop is giving mice plenty to chew on. The CSIRO and the Grain and Research Development Corporation have warned that they expect to see numbers explode again.
Moree B&W Rural agronomist Casey Budd told the ABC she has noticed more mice in the last 10 days.
“We are heading into the perfect storm,” she said. “There is so much food in the paddock, the bait’s not necessarily attractive.”
For grey nomads, of course the nightmare is that the pesky rodents will gnaw away at wiring in their vehicle’s engine or just get in their home on wheels.
Graham and Sandra Ashley, who travel in a Winnebago towing a Suzuki Jimny, are still scarred by the time mice invaded their motorhome a few years ago while they were camped at Strathalbyn in South Australia.
After a prolonged spell of heavy rain, Sandra was laying in her bed one day when she heard tiny feet scurrying above her head. The couple then found that the potatoes they had in a drawer under the cooker had bite marks in them … and so they bought a mouse trap.
“I put peanut butter and jam on it and, sure enough, the first night we caught a mouse!” recalls Sandra. “That was me then – I emptied my food cupboard and my oven and grill and ewwwwww … mouse droppings everywhere!”
The couple suspected the troublesome rodents were coming up through the cupboard where the gas bottles were, and Graham sealed some holes with silicon … but the night-time scurrying continued.
“The worry, of course, was what they may be doing in the roof space,” said Sandra. “What wires were they chewing … I’m not afraid of mice, but I didn’t like the idea of the little buggers eating their way through our van.”
In the end, the Ashleys trapped six mice, all in the same drawer under the cooker.
“We feared our electrics would one day go down, but we were very fortunate we didn’t have any damage,” said Sandra. “Though we did find droppings for ages afterwards, even under my bed and in the cupboards above our heads … they got everywhere!”
The Ashleys were glad they used a trap and not poison. “It meant we didn’t get any bad smells from dead rodents,” said Sandra. “Just the creeps from them being into our clothes and stuff!”