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Biology and Damage

Biology of mice

Source: NSW DPI

Mice (Mus domesticus) live and feed in close association with humans. In many places mice have reverted to a wild existence, where they live independently of humans. In this feral pattern, mice can be found in a surprising diversity of habitats including coral atolls, grasslands, deserts, freshwater marshes, seashore dunes, alpine valleys and cropping land. Along fencelines of cropland, mice find prime quality habitat. Fencelines provide grass seeds in spring and autumn, good nesting sites, and are in close proximity to crops. During favourable conditions mice disperse from fencelines to colonise and breed in crops.

Plagues of mice can develop in the cereal/grain growing regions of south and eastern Australia. Generally, plagues are widespread and damage can occur across the affected area. High densities of mice can be present for up to six months. The number of mice generally declines over winter because no breeding occurs. If the population does not crash, high densities may occur again the following year. 

Damage caused by mice

Mice are a significant problem in Australia, causing severe economic, social and environmental damage during plagues. Grain growing areas suffer damage to crops and to stored grain; rural businesses suffer damage from mice chewing stock and electrical wires; rural communities experience high levels of stress through the constant presence of mice. Damage occurs to a wide array of crops.
Source: R. Eade Source R. Eade

For cereal crops, mouse damage can occur at three stages:
  • sowing, when mice dig out the newly sown seed;
  • booting, when mice attack the nodes during the vegetative growth stage (this can be readily identified by fallen tillers at nodes); and
  • flowering, when mice attack the heads.


ROGERS advice - Monitor for mouse activity regularly, and bait early if you can.
STEVES advice - Watch for increase in numbers late winter and spring!!
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