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Plague is ‘worst in decade’

Tuesday, 1st March, 2011

PLAGUE PROPORTIONS: Trevor Hicks Pest Control Pest Technician, Bayden Symonds, with rodent baits. PLAGUE PROPORTIONS: Trevor Hicks Pest Control Pest Technician, Bayden Symonds, with rodent baits.

By Gayle Hogan

The city is experiencing its worst plague of mice in at least a decade, according to a local pest control company.

Trevor Hicks Pest Control Officer Manager, Chris McInnes said the problem was of "plague proportions" and the company had more than 10 times as many requests than usual to treat mouse infestations in recent weeks.

Local supermarkets have also been struggling to keep their shelves full of mouse traps and baits and the RSPCA has been treating a number of pets who have swallowed rodent poison.

Mr McInnes said he believed the rain and cooler temperatures had exacerbated the city's rodent problem, with mice seeking shelter and food in the comfort of local homes.

"It is one of the main problems people have been contacting us about.

"It is unusual for this time of year to have a mouse problem.... it usually happens at the end of the winter months."

Mr McInnes said the company had received an average of seven calls a day, as opposed to the three a week they typically get at this time of the year.

"One of our technicians has been here more than 10 years and he doesn't recall (a plague of mice) as bad as this."

RSPCA Veterinarian Dr Doug Dixon-Hughes said the clinic had seen a spike in the number of pets being treated for rodent bait poisoning.

"We've seen quite a few dogs.

"The dogs get into the ratsack and Talon."

Dogs eating dead mice that have been poisoned was also a problem but Dr Dixon-Hughes said it was more serious if dogs ate the poison directly.

He said it was important for pet owners to realise the symptoms of poisoning which often do not appear until three or four days after ingestion.

They include shallow, faster breathing, fluid in the lungs, and a swollen abdomen and legs.

Prompt treatment was required to save the pet's life, Dr Dixon-Hughes said. 

"Bring them in as soon as possible. We will either make them vomit or start them on the antidote."

Dr Dixon-Hughes advised residents to be extra careful when using poison.

"If you've got dogs and cats, don't put baits anywhere they can reach them.

"I would suggest, if you have got animals, the best thing to do is contact the pest control people."

Mr McInnes agreed, saying many over-the counter baits were dangerous when not used correctly.

"A lot of over-the-shelf-baits are a lot more toxic than people realise.

"You should always call a professional - our technicians are trained in how mice work."

He also had some advice for keeping mice at bay including sweeping and mopping floors regularly, not leaving uneaten pet food lying around and reducing clutter, which served as nesting grounds for mice.

He also suggested getting pest controllers to place baits and low-lying sprays in the home even if mice were not present.

"Try to organise neighbours to also get treatments and even if you don't have mice, we recommend you get the baits put in," Mr McInnes said.

A spokeswoman for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service also advised residents to seek professional help in eradicating house mice as there were a number of protected native mice in and around the city after the recent rains.

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