Rural residents raise concerns about potentially contaminated drinking water after finding poisoned mice in their tanks as mouse plague continues to worsen.
- Mouse plague is worsening, causing significant stress and financial loss in regional Australia
- A viral image posted on social media shows poisoned mice in a drinking water tank in central west NSW
- People are warned to check and clean their water tanks to avoid disease
Frustrated landowners continue to try to reduce mouse populations with rigorous bait programs, but the problem shows no signs of slowing down.
Louise Hennessy, from Elong Elong in central western New South Wales, warned other rural residents of the potential health effects on humans and animals after finding baited mice in her drinking stash.
She made the discovery while climbing up on her house tank to check for a clog and was instantly overwhelmed by a repulsive odor.
“It was so horrible that I thought it would be a good picture to remind people to be vigilant about their water tanks,” Ms. Hennessy said.
“We always filter the water that flows into our house from the tanks and for us personally we feel like we’ve covered our precautions so we didn’t notice anything with the taste. But the smell of the mice was upstairs in the tank so disgusting. “
Farmers say that despite finding many dead mice, the population continues to grow despite bait programs. (
Delivered: Craig Wilson
Be careful when baiting
Ms. Hennessy contacted the Primary Health Unit to inquire about the health effects of poisoning mice in drinking water.
“I understand the need to bait mice on a rural property, but knowing what precautions to take is important,” she said.
“There are a lot of baits out there that are very toxic. There are a lot of wildlife that feed on the mice. There are so many things that need to be considered in order to keep everyone safe while fighting mouse plague.
“Think about what you are using, be careful when using bait, where to place it, and where the water source is. I just hope the frost comes soon to completely eradicate the mice.”
That one trap brought together 150 mice in a single night as the plague worsened in Wongarbon, in central west New South Wales. (
Delivered: Kristy Leigh
Human Health Concerns
Dubbo regional council’s environmental and health officer, Simone Tenne, said people often did not think of drinking water pollution.
“Rainwater tanks are seen as a clean source of drinking water, but they often contain frogs, insects and a large amount of bird feces that have come down from the roof,” said Ms. Tenne.
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“The public health sector recommends that people do some type of treatment, be it chlorination, a little acidification, or some type of filtration, to prevent bacteria from accidentally getting in through drinking contaminated water.”
Ms. Tenne said health problems could be caused by mice in drinking water.
“As with any dead creature in your water, you are dealing with a number of different bacteria, depending on the health of that species.
“You see Salmonella, E. coli, Giardia – a number of gastrointestinal diseases that you can get from drinking water containing a variety of bacteria and viruses.
“The problem with rainwater is that you can create a calm environment that gets nice and warm in the summer and that you have all sorts of contaminants that help bacteria thrive. You have to be very careful.”
She noted that it would take a large amount of poison to affect a person who drinks contaminated water.
“Getting sick from the poison the rat or mouse took would require an enormous dose,” said Ms. Tenne.
“You could take a spoonful of rat poison and it wouldn’t necessarily kill you, even if you’re a small person.
“You’d think the poison was extremely diluted, as would the fact that many of the poisons break down once ingested by the mouse.”
Bait mice are found in water tanks and basins during mouse plague. (
Delivered: Jane Blomley
Mice, snakes, fish, kangaroos
Richard Teague, Dubbo water tank cleaner, said he had encountered the problem frequently.
“I’ve seen all of my rodents show up in drinking water, from rats to many, many mice. Especially when people use bait, it makes them thirsty so they jump in the gutters, die, and next time It rains, they are flushed into the tanks, “said Mr. Teague.
“I’ve been pretty busy since the dust storm drought erupted over the years. There’s inches of dirt that has blown into tanks over the years. Now with this mouse plague.”
The water tank pro said people should be diligent in cleaning and maintaining the tank as mice weren’t the only animals causing problems.
Richard Teague says it’s not uncommon to find fish in tanks miles from the nearest waterway.
Delivered: Richard Teague
“It’s not uncommon to find fish – I see a lot of European carp end up in tanks,” said Teague.
“I don’t know how to get there – maybe birds carry the eggs. I find fish in open tanks on lots that can be miles from any river,” said Teague.
“I get a lot of snakes, I’ve had a kangaroo. In these cases we drain it, disinfect it, and start again to make it as clean as it was the day it was made.”
He said regular maintenance is a must to avoid drinking contaminated water.
“There’s no substitute for maintaining the tank baskets and your gutters. I vacuum mine pretty regularly and every time I’m pretty surprised at how much comes out of it,” said Teague.
“Wherever you have water that is kept still, algae tend to grow, die, and then fall to the bottom. Over several years it builds up, it is not uncommon to have various types of mud several feet deep are available, depending on where the water is coming from. “”