City dwellers are watching the mouse plague hitting Australia's country towns with horror. Now an expert has revealed what's in store for the nation's capitals.
Big city Aussies may have to contend with traffic and eye-watering house prices, but many have been thankful they're not in the bush this year.
The mouse plague they've seen sweeping through country towns this year has been unusually severe, and the pictures are enough to make stomachs turn.
The plague has seen schools, homes and hospitals overrun, farmers lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in crops and entire towns suffocated by the pungent smell left by the rodents.
The infestation may not yet have peaked — with CSIRO warning it could last two years. And, it's not NSW communities that are being hit.
The MouseAlert app, which tracks spottings, show the rodent pests are as far north as Biloela in Queensland, in various locations around Melbourne and Geelong, and in isolated spots in South Australia and Western Australia.
The rapid spread of the problem has left Aussie city slickers in capitals like Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne worried they could be swamped by rodents in the near future.
However, CSIRO researcher and mouse expert Steve Henry said that while millions of rodents are running rampant in rural areas, it's "really unlikely" they will invade homes in coastal centres.
He told Sunrise, this is because they typically only move 100m from their nest or burrow to forage and always return at the end of the night.
"Mice only weight about 13 grams and they've got very little legs," Henry explained.
He said plagues of this scale only happen every 10 years and population numbers are currently exploding due to "exceptional" conditions following the drought.
"Plagues tend to happen at the end of long dry periods and this season has just been exceptional," he explained.
"It started to rain early in the spring, there was lots of food in the system and then we've had a really mild, wet summer where mice have continued to breed through summer and into autumn."
The MouseAlert app shows there have been a number of recent sightings in Melbourne and Sydney.
However, Mr Henry said this is nothing unusual and that new sightings in urban areas were likely due to local populations growing.
"Mice are present wherever humans are and if there's enough resources they build up to higher numbers, and that's exactly what's happening this year," he said.
Thousands impacted by ongoing plague
Over the past few months, social media has been flooded with pictures and videos showing the true extent of the plague.
Some farmers lost their entire summer crops to the rodents and others have spent as much as $159,000 on bait to kill the mice.
Preliminary results from a survey of some 1100 rural residents showed nearly all had been forced to bait for mice.
Nearly one-third of respondents had spent between $21,000 and $159,000 on baiting, while some had forked out more than that.
Farmer Ben Storer estimated over a billion mice have passed through his property, taking out football fields' worth of crops as they go.
"We had (mice) bad in the 1980s once and we've had outbreaks of them here and there, but nothing this bad," Storer told The Daily Telegraph.
"To then lose a whole sorghum crop and some 1000 rolls of hay … you could easily factor in a couple of hundred thousand dollars for the sorghum (grain), and then, with the value of hay during the drought, you could probably say it was worth the same."
Apart from the economic cost of the plague, the smell has also been a horrific factor many rural residents have been forced to live with.
"The smell is just atrocious," Lisa Minogue, 48, who lives on a rural property near Barmedman, NSW, told NCA NewsWire.
"Mice have two smells: when they're still alive, it's a strange, dirty smell. But then you have the smell when they're dead and decaying which is even worse."