A FARMER’S wife woke up to a mouse chewing on her EYEBALL as Australia’s rodent plague destroys everything in its wake.
The woman was rushed to hospital after waking up horrified last week – as tens of millions of rampaging mice torment communities across the country.
She is one of many victims of the outbreak, being described as the worst in more than 30 years, The Times reports.
Another farmer was fast asleep when he felt something small scuttling across his face.
Mick Harris, who lives in Narromine, about 250 miles inland from Sydney, said: “I felt a tickly, furry sensation as it crawled from behind my ear across my cheek.
“It made my skin crawl. My hair stood up and I jumped out of bed.
“For the rest of the night I didn’t sleep a wink — until I caught the mouse in a trap under the bed.”
And his wife experienced a similar horror weeks earlier when she felt something nibbling her wedding ring finger while she slept.
Mick, 35, added: “She was horrified. We’ve got two young kids.
“It does make you worry that when they wake up crying it’s because they have a mouse in their bed.”
There have been calls for the mouse plague to be declared a “natural disaster” so frustrated Aussies can claim insurance payouts after a house was torched, cars were destroyed and crops left decimated.
Horrific outbreaks stretch 1,000km from Brisbane to Melbourne and have been wreaking havoc for farming communities for nearly a year.
As the Australian winter sets in, home and car owners have been forced to deal with rats and mice looking for warmer places to live.
The rodents have eaten through electrical wires which sparked a house fire in Narrabri, New South Wales, while cars have been damaged.
Mum-of-three Shirilee Jackson, 31, who lives in Mandagery, NSW, said a swarm of rats and mice left her car damaged beyond repair in just one night.
She told A Current Affair: “Ten grand’s (£5,474) worth of damage. I’ve woken up at five o’clock in the morning to find the seatbelts chewed, the heater unit, flooring, head rest, and child’s car seat chewed.
“It’s just unreal, in a matter of 10 hours.”
Mrs Jackson said she has insurance and tried to make a claim but was told she wasn’t able to.
Major insurance companies in Australia have told customers that general home and contents insurance and car insurance does not protect against rats and mice unless there are other effects, such as a fire or floods.
Andrew McKenzie, a mechanic in Orange, NSW, said the damage caused by the infestation of rodents was getting worse and he’s “now getting up to four cars a day”.
He said one driver he spoke to had his brakes fail at a dangerous intersection, while another motorist said her car nearly burst into flames.
Mr Mckenzie said: “The rats had built a nest under the engine cover and chewed through the fuel line and made it leak fuel everywhere.”
Rural areas are having their livelihoods threatened by the infestation.
People are resorting to putting the legs of their beds and tables in buckets of water to prevent mice crawling up them.
And one farmer – Anne Cullen in Coonamble, NSW – has found herself killing 50 mice a day by hand as they take over her home and hay stores.
She told The Times: “The first time I had to pick a mouse out of the pool and smash it on the cement to kill it, I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I can’t do this.’ But then I was doing 50 a day.”
Another farmer, Eris Fleming, said he spends hours clearing out buckets of water designed to catch the mice as they typically contain more than 300 dead rodents.
Mouse plague expert Steve Henry, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said people are “worn out” from dealing with mice.
“They’re running across your bed at night; in the morning you’re clearing them out of the traps,” he explained.
“Then you get your breakfast cereal out of the cupboard and there have been mice there or they’re still there.
“And then you go out to the car and the car won’t start because they’ve chewed through the electrical cables.”
Xavier Martin, vice-president of the New South Wales Farmers’ Association, described trying to contain the problem as “like trying to control Covid on a cruise ship”.
It’s like trying to control Covid on a cruise ship.
In just three months, two mice can spark a colony of almost 400, rapidly spawning to tens of thousands, Daily Mail Australia reports.
A mouse can live for up to two or three years – and females can start reproducing at just six weeks of age.
They can give birth to ten babies every three weeks and the mum can get pregnant again the very next day.
Experts have warned “without a concerted baiting effort in the next few weeks this could easily turn into a two-year plague event”.
And in a desperate bid to stop the mouse menace, the NSW government has secured 5,000 litres of the toxic rodent poison bromadiolone – dubbed “napalm for mice” – which is currently banned for agriculture use in the country.
But the state has offered to provide it for free if the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority approves it.
Bromadiolone kills rats and mice by preventing the blood from clotting and can be lethal from one day of eating the poison, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.
Announcing the measure as part of a $50million package to curb the outbreak, Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the poison would be “the equivalent of napalming mice” across the affected regions.
The mice are almost certainly descended from rodent stowaways on British convict ships nearly 250 years ago.
The common house mice (mus musculus) is thought to have only appeared in the vast country in the wake of the arrival of the British First Fleet – which carried 750 convicts to Botany Bay in 1788.
They scuttled through holds and cabins as the ships made their way to the other side of the world before the rodents then scurried onto dry land with the new settlers.