Bushwalking in a Mouse Plague

Ever wondered how you need to protect your equipment when camping during a mouse plague? Is there anything you can do to avoid attracting them?

Having recently (April) walked in the Vulkathunha-Gammons Ranges in the north of South Australia, I was surprised to find how adaptable the house mouse is to an arid environment. Of course,  it had been one of the better seasons on record, and water was laying in small rock pools which normally would not have existed.

Sitting around our campfire we were amazed to see twenty or so mice approach within a few metres, looking for leftovers. On retiring, we soon realised how much noise a few mice can make as they run over your tent, gnaw at your tent and pack, and pick through your scraps. There is nothing quite like a gnawing sound to keep you awake, as you wonder which expensive piece of your equipment is being destroyed.

On rising, many of us noticed damage to our gear; holes in our packs and tents, even those that had been placed off the ground. Those who had been game enough to sleep with only a tent fly or in a bivvy sac had horror stories to tell.

While mice don’t conjure up the same element of fear, methods of protection from mice have some similarities to those needed when walking in bear country.

Safeguarding your Gear

The key to protecting your gear is to securely isolate your food from your gear or if you can’t do that make the food undetectable to smell.

This means adopting a combination of the following:

  • keeping your food, including leftovers, in airtight bags
  • not leaving food scraps around to attract them
  • keeping the food outside your tent and pack
  • isolating your pack from the ground, by suspending it between two trees on a very thin rope
  • making the rope unclimbable by making it long and thin (heavy nylon fishing line)
  • placing spinning obstacles on the cord such as drinking straws or soft drink bottles
  •  use your billy to store your food and put a rock on top

Some observations are that mice :

  • can climb trees
  • can eat through plastic containers, canvas, rip-stop nylon
  • can run along ropes
  • love to eat foam mats, and the handles of your walking poles.

  Creative Commons License This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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