The end of the three-year drought and the ensuing wildfires allowed Australia to breathe a sigh of relief. In return, it created the perfect conditions for the worst rat plague in the last decade.
“People are literally tying laces around pants when they’re walking among rats, because they don’t want them to climb up their legs,” rat expert Steve Henry told VICE Henry works for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the national body for scientific research in Australia.
It is now feared that the millions of rats will continue to multiply through the winter and ruin the crops. The problems have already started to show themselves, since production losses to damaged machinery. Even what is not eaten by rats is contaminated by feces and urine.
The desperation of farmers leads them to take action to try to stop this pest. There are those who have spent more than 100 thousand dollars on bait to capture them.
Henry leads the country’s efforts to combat the plague of rats and ensures that the zinc phosphide it is the only humane and effective option: “It is an unpleasant chemical and its use has been banned in other countries, but the chances of secondary poisoning are very low”.
In May, the government of New South Wales announced a $50 million support package to help farmers fight the pest.
Agricultural consequences are not the only problem spawned by the millions of rats that terrorize Australians — are also a threat to public health..
In Queensland, there were at least 78 reports of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that, without treatment, can lead to kidney failure, meningitis, and respiratory complications. Fortunately, Australia has managed to control the covid-19 pandemic, otherwise the effects could be devastating.
Although Australia has a history of rat plagues, like the one in 1993, which caused more than 90 million dollars in damage, the current plague is supposedly the worst in the last decade.