Mechanics in Orange and surrounding areas warned of the damage mice are inflicting on vehicles as they continue to plague the region, but urged people to resist the temptation of setting baits in engine bays or inside cars.
As the temperature drops the still-rampant rodents are seeking shelter and warmth in vehicles, particularly engine bays where they can cause potentially-catastrophic damage by chewing through wiring, or brake and fuel lines.
While mouse populations remain patchy in Orange it's a problem mechanics are seeing in the city, however surrounding areas like Molong, Manildra, Cumnock, Yeoval and Canowindra have been hit significantly harder.
Molong Tyre and Mechanical's Andy McKenzie took to social media earlier this week after being inundated with several rodent-damaged vehicles a day recently.
"I only posted to try and give people some warning and advice but it went a bit viral. I'm certainly not the only mechanic who is seeing this, I know Yeoval has been absolutely smashed by the mice so I think they'd be seeing plenty," Mr McKenzie said.
"From what I've seen the baits actually tend to attract them so people shouldn't put them in their cars or engine bays. After mice and rats eat those baits they'll go looking for water, and they'll chew through anything to get to it.
"The best thing people can do, I think, is to try and cool their engine bays down after driving. If vehicles are parked in safe areas, or garages, put the bonnet up after you've driven it because the mice are looking for that warmth."
While vehicle damage caused by rats and mice isn't exclusive to the region's current plague conditions, Mr McKenzie conceded the sheer number of rodents around at the moment makes it a difficult problem to overcome.
While not in the same numbers, Orange mechanic Josh Annis-Brown confirmed he's seen 'one or two' damaged vehicles a week come into GB Auto recently, one which brought a consequence that could have health implications too.
"The worst one I've seen was a mouse that had died under the carpet of the driver's seat and had been there to the point of decaying," he said.
"It caused the worst smell, which stayed in the vehicle even after it was cleaned up, but I've seen anything from chewed-through cabin filters and vents to mice making nests under engine covers or chewing through engine harness wiring."
Increased reporting of mice, through platforms like the Mouse Alert app, farther east and including the outskirts of Sydney has led many to believe the rodent plague is moving.
However CSIRO experts, as recently as last week, have maintained the populations of mice devastating communities farther west are not migrating.
Researcher and mouse expert Steve Henry said there's more mice around simply because conditions suit.
"Mice are currently responding to seasonal conditions," he said.
"There's been good rainfall after several years of drought and the bumper grain crops grown over spring and summer provide excess food for mice.
"Shelter and food sources combined create perfect conditions for mice to thrive and survive."
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