The other day I was driving along the road, as you do, when out of the corner of my eye I saw an advertising sign on the pavement. This wasn’t any old advert, the message was actually quite disturbing. So disturbing, I needed to take a photograph of it.
You will be pleased to hear that to do this I didn’t hang out the side of my car waving my iPhone and clicking frantically in camera mode with my other hand steadying the steering wheel, no, when it comes to Driving in Australia: I Know the Law.
So I parked up, shut all the windows, locked the doors, and strolled, camera in hand, towards my target. This is the sign that both shocked and surprised me…
Rat and mice plague
Here? Now? Are they suggesting we have a rat and mice plague here in Australia?
Well, that’s news to me.
I’d love to be able to tell you that we simply don’t get rats here in Australia, but we do. According to Wikipedia, we have something like 60 different types of rodent some of whom are indigenous and others who arrived here from foreign shores.
One of those imports is Rattus norvegicus which, it turns out, isn’t just the name of a classic 70s album by The Stranglers, but also a fancy name for the brown rat.
Anyway, being an inquisitive kind of guy, I didn’t take this A-board portable pavement advertising sign as the definitive work on the presence of rats and mice in Australia, I decided to investigate further. And when I investigate something, I investigate thoroughly…
Using the words ‘plague’ and ‘rats’ in the same search in big G threw out references to the 14th century, Black Death and bubonic plague. This research was going to be tougher than I thought. After a great deal of deliberation I decided to search for ‘rats in Australia‘.
Rats in Australia
Then my masterstroke, I limited my search to the past year.
Here are the top 10 results…
For those of you who can’t quite read every entry, here’s a roundup:
- The already mentioned Wikipedia page
- An article on how to get rid of rats and mice
- A couple of museum entries
- Two article about Australian rodent species that are endangered
- One offering rats as food for other pets
- An article about a motorcycle race called the RAT Rally
- A science magazine report about native water rats returning
- And an article about the Disney Channel’s TV programme Lab Rats
Not a single mention of any plagues, out-of-control rats or places being overrun by rats.
I got a similar result when I searched for “mice in Australia” except for one result which was quite disturbing, an article about dead mice mounting up as South Australian plague worsens.
So, SA has a mice problem, but the advertising sign was in Queensland. Is this shop in the wrong place?
In order to compare and as an experiment, I decided to search for ‘rats in the UK‘.
Rats in UK
Again, I limited my search to the past year.
Here are the top 10 results…
Here are some of those headlines you might not be able to read:
- BBC News – Giant rat: Swedes agog at ‘Ratzilla’ in Stockholm
- Giant rat watch: ‘Mutant’ rodent spotted in Gravesend | Metro …
- Birmingham being overrun by ‘unbelievably big and heavy …
- More giant rats ‘the size of small cats’ pictured by worried …
- ‘Rats the size of cats are invading our cities’: Two-foot long …
- ‘Super rats expected to outnumber humans two to one by …
- Ghost ship packed with cannibal rats is not likely to crash …
- Gang of rats gangs up on terrified kids and surrounds them …
- Easter is a perfect time for mutant rats to thrive, experts warn …
- Birmingham overrun by mega rats – Birmingham Mail
2 foot long rats? Invading cities? Gangs of rats rounding up on kids? Mega rats in Birmingham?
Ghost ship packed with cannibal rats?
So it would appear that Australia, by comparison with the UK, certainly doesn’t have a rat or a mice infestation problem and the shop responsible for the advertising board would be better off plying their trade in England. So yes, the shop is in the wrong place.
Horrible pictures coming soon.
Do not scroll any further if you are a bit squeamish and especially if you do not like rats, mice or death.
My experience rats in Australia
Never ever seen a live one face-to-face. Thought I saw one dart across the front of my garden one evening just as it was getting dark. I’ve seen their droppings in my garage, so I know they are about. I’ve put out rat poison in rat traps before, but I think they just love that stuff.
And I’ve seen a couple of dead ones.
Horrible pictures coming real soon.
This poor fella got caught in my mousetrap which is a really hypocritical thing of me to say because I was the one that set the mousetrap with the intention of catching a mouse or a rat.
Thing is though, I have no idea if this is a mouse or rat.
Really horrible picture coming right now…
Well, I did warn you.
If I were to guess though, I’d say mouse.
Even more horrible picture coming up soon.
I may have been responsible for the death of that first rat or mouse, but I had nothing to do with this one. I’m not sure what could’ve possibly happen to this one, but I have my suspicions.
Even more horrible picture coming up real soon.
I found this rat or mouse on the lawn in my back garden, but it looks as though the birds and probably ants found him first.
Even more horrible picture coming up right now…
Well, I did warn you.
Again, I’m pretty sure this is a mouse, so maybe we have a slight problem with mice.
If you do have a problem with mice and rats where you are though, the best way to deal with it is naturally. Get a carpet Python…
They should have never killed all the feral cats now they have rats. Karma.
Bring in the cats and DONT Kill them this time.
Ah yes, bring back the fat cats…
I have longed to live in Australia. I hear it is buzzling with
I want to help kill some non_existent rats. I guess it feels nice to murder the vacuum.
Just like cockroaches, rats are dirty pest too. Whenever I see rats in my house, I wont stop till I see it dead.
Hi, I’ve been ready your section for about a month now. My daughter, ( then living here in Durham England) found some obscure forum from Melbourne Uni students discussing their rat infestation. The most recent comment 2014. Now she has been staying at the student accommodation for a month. Last night a rat spent 5hrs trying to get through some expandable foam the maintenance guy had put around the in built study table! (She is petrified an Skypes me at various hours ?)
I think there is a hidden problem.
Yes, there are problems in certain places. I know I had that rat in my garage, but other than that though, I have very rarely seen them here. So the problems aren’t everywhere. Sounds like your daughter might well be looking for new student accommodation sometime soon 🙂
Is that where they all are? Gosh, that’s a lot of mice!
I am afraid of rats because they bring with them lice and infections.They make noises on the ceiling, and objects drop while you try to get back to sleep.They also make holes on the external walls, and lick the glue of the plaster board of the ceiling making it loosen up and drop . I have seen little rats and big brown ones here in Perth , especially closer to town and the river. They are more numerous where pets (birds and dogs) live. I just called a pest control agent and I hope he will get my house rid of the pest .I also think they love carpet and that is why I am going to substitute it with good ol’ jarrah wood.
I don’t think many people will disagree with you about this Louise, there’s nothing endearing at all about rats. Definitely get the pest control in, the best rat is a dead rat, or maybe get yourself a couple of killer cats 🙂
In your research, did you any correlation with excessive rodents and surplus of produce like grains, corn etc.? Just curious, because some of the regions plagued with these infestations coincidentally appear to be areas wherein farming has been subsidized for an extended period.
Anyhow, interesting post, thanks.
I didn’t notice a correlation, but I suppose anywhere that is a good food source would be likely to have more chance of having problems with rats.
A “plague” of rats or mice wouldn’t surprise me in the least, at least in farmland. But here in the UK they can – and are – found quite frequently around all areas. All the houses I stayed in at university had the odd mouse, and friends’ houses had rats (we were the cleaner of the lot at university). Go to the train station, at least round here, and you’ll see ’em scurrying around the tracks (or you used to a few years back, haven’t been to those stations since) and around the back of shopping areas. And a few weeks back I did think I spotted a suspiciously large one rummaging in some rubbish behind a bus shelter at the local hospital.
But I will say that rats can be very sweet creatures – at least the ones we got as pets were. Very curious and cute, we even got them to respond to their names and they surprised us by using some paper and somehow building a pouch for their food out of it. Think we’ll probably get some more when our son’s old enough – at the moment he just has to make do with treating the rabbit like a moving cuddly toy.
Yes, pet rats can be quite pleasant, I remember as a child I kept mice, much to my mother’s horror 🙂
Oh yes, I remember there would always be rats on the London Underground, you would see them scurrying around the tracks all the time. Mrs Bob also discovered a rather large rat on top of the fridge in our garage once back in the UK, that didn’t please her much either.
Definitely fewer of the critters here from what I can see.