NSW mouse plague: Scientists plot to make feminine rodents infertile to eradicate hideous mouse plague

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An extinction plan to “breed” female rodents is being accelerated to curb the terrible mouse plague that is wreaking havoc in the New South Wales region.

The state government will invest $ 1.8 million in a three-year gene-editing research program that aims to use an “X-shredder” approach to breed more male than female mice or, alternatively, to infertile female rodents.

The news comes after the shocking math behind the life cycle of mice is summed up in a graph that shows that just two rodents can produce a colony of hundreds of thousands in a month that, under ideal conditions, can grow to millions in just over a year .

New cutting edge research at the University of Adelaide aims to find a way how mice can reproduce to extinction.

An extinction plan to “incubate” female rodents with the aim of containing the mouse plague in NSW is underway. Dozens of mice are pictured in Tottenham in west central NSW

A strategy called “X-Shredder” aims to eliminate sperm with the X chromosome so that mice breed more males than females, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The other approach would involve genetic modifications to render female mice sterile.

“Cutting-edge solutions like these mean that future mouse plagues can be wiped out before they begin,” said NSW Secretary of Agriculture Adam Marshall.

“With targeted gene drives, the scientists want to interrupt the breeding cycle of mice and keep the populations at a manageable level.”

At an early stage, research could be used in a decade to help prevent mouse plagues in the future.

It is also hoped that the technology could also be used on other pests such as rats, rabbits, and wild cats, which would change pest control forever.

“What we’re really trying to do is do a proof of concept for the technology, see if we can get it working in a laboratory setting,” Professor Paul Thomas of the University of Adelaide told the paper.

The NSW government will invest in a three-year gene-editing research program as the state battles a nationwide mouse plague (pictured, mice in Gunnedah, NSW).

The NSW government will invest in a three-year gene-editing research program as the state battles a nationwide mouse plague (pictured, mice in Gunnedah, NSW).

The mouse life cycle is one of the main reasons the mouse plague that is flooding the eastern states of Australia is so terrifying.

The common mouse can live up to two or three years of age – however, female mice begin to reproduce as early as six weeks of age.

They can give birth to ten young three weeks later, while the mother may become pregnant again the next day

If half of each litter is female – which are mature enough to reproduce just six weeks later – these two original mice will have a colony of nearly 2,000 mice within five months.

And then, in an ideal mouse world, the exponential growth really takes off.

A few weeks later it will be tens of thousands – and then possibly hundreds of thousands before the numbers get really overwhelming.

Unchecked, they could reach 1.5 million within a year – and mathematicians predict that a rampant colony can effectively double every three weeks from then on.

The shocking math behind the mouse life cycle is one of the main reasons the mouse plague that is flooding the eastern states of Australia is so terrifying.

The only thing that would stop the plague would be a lack of food and predators – but the perfect Australian farm weather of late has meant there is no shortage of food.

And predators haven’t been able to keep up with the mouse population boom so far, but coming cold wet winter weather could at least slow the onslaught.

The NSW government is also testing a previously banned chemical called “napalm for mice” to wipe out the mouse threat.

Under increasing pressure from the plague, which has plagued regional communities for eight months, the state government has secured 5,000 liters of the deadly rodent venom bromadiolone.

Currently banned for agricultural use in Australia, the state has offered to make it available for free if the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Agency approves it.

Announcing the move, which is part of a $ 50 million government package to combat the outbreak, Mr Marshall said the poison would be “the equivalent of napalming mice” in the affected areas.

Research conducted at the university found high levels of venom in owls and snakes across Perth, where bromadiolone is approved for use in residential areas.

“These kind of alarm bells go off,” said Dr. Davis. “This potentially spreads down the food chain when we use these products.”

Pictured are mice scurrying around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham in west central New South Wales

Pictured are mice scurrying around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham in west central New South Wales

Mouse plagues continue to wreak havoc in the Australia region, with many families detailing how they feel like the rodents crawling over them while they slept (mice killed by farmers in NSW are shown).

Research conducted at the university found high levels of venom in owls and snakes across Perth, where bromadiolone is approved for use in residential settings

If the poison is used, even more favorable conditions for the next mouse plague could be created.

“You could see agricultural landscapes for a long time without owls, dragons, snakes and goannas.

“We could lose all of our natural pest control.”

NSW Farmers is demanding that primary producers receive a 50 percent discount on zinc phosphide, an alternative poison, instead.

Dr. Davis agrees that it is “the better of the two evils”.

NSW Farmers urges primary producers to get a 50 percent discount on zinc phosphide instead of the more controversial but effective bromadiolone (stock image)

NSW Farmers urges primary producers to get a 50 percent discount on zinc phosphide instead of the more controversial but effective bromadiolone (stock image)

“There would be no other country in the western world that would approve this use of bromadiolone.”

If approved by the APVMA, it will be the first time bromadiolone has been approved for this use in Australia since 2016.

Farmers fear that the runaway mouse plague could last for up to two years if drastic measures are not urgently taken.

Xavier Martin, the vice president of NSW Farmers, said breeders are now leaving their paddocks to the mouse hoard for fear that the plants sown there over the winter will be consumed before they can be harvested.

“Without concerted agitation over the next few weeks, this could easily turn into a two-year plague event,” warned Martin.