Rats & Mice in the Simpson

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 22:08
ThreadID: 134709 Views:4377 Replies:12 FollowUps:2
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Crossing the Simpson in June, have been doing a little research and reading of peoples blogs and trip reports and I wanted to know if a certain "rumour" is true.

After a good wet season, like the one we are at the end of now, It is said that rodent numbers increase significantly and that the Simpson is flooded with them. True? False?

People park their vehicles up earlier than later to allow them to cool down, open up the bonnets and hang torches to light up the engine area to discourage rodents from getting in there and chewing up all your hoses and wiring?
Is this common practice? Has anyone had any real trouble with this occuring?

Ive also read that people have placed lighting around the exterior of their tents/swags to keep rodents at bay?

Im just curious to know, if this is a legitimate and common issue that people face crossing the Simpson, and how they deal with it.

PS. They dont frighten me, I just dont like the idea of the damage they may cause to my vehicle and my gear.
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Reply By: Mick O - Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 22:22

Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 22:22
Kate, having survived a couple of mouse plagues in the Mallee, I think you'll find the conditions that lead to a 'plague' in the desert regions like the Simpson are slightly different and correspond to the prevalence of flood waters rather than solid rains. The increase in mice/rats both native and otherwise have been recorded to increase in the Simpson around the times of the floods through the area.

If vast areas are inundated again due to floodwaters flowing from the north through to Lake Eyre etc, then yes you'll find an increase in rodents. If it's climatic conditions like the breaking of a long drought (which it's not),. you'll see an increase but not significant in terms of being described as a 'plague'.

It's amazing to actually see the types of nocturnal animals that hop about the dunes of a night. We would often smooth over a patch of sand on a dune top and then re investigate in the morning to see what has left tracks across it. the results are amazing.

For any rodents, the precautions are the same. secure your vehicle at night, secure foodstuffs and zip up your tent well enough. Keep loose food stuffs out of the tent. Mice in Oz or Bears in Alaska/Canada...the same rules apply :-)
Cheers and enjoy the Simpson.


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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 22:40

Saturday, Apr 22, 2017 at 22:40
Yes Kate, that rumour is true. BUT I don't think it has been a good wet season in the Simpson, though it may have been a little better than the 87% of Qld that is currently in drought. The Long Haired Plague Rat and the mice usually get to plague proportions after extreme rain events such as around 2010-2012.

From what I've seen along the Birdsville track, the mice appear after dark, hang around for an hour or two, then head off to do what mice do, whatever that might be. The rats can cause a lot more damage, say overnight, so it is best to lock up ALL foodstuff, shut vehicles up and don't leave your RM Williams boots outside the tent.

Yes, I'd lift the bonnet, but the lights probably won't make much difference to them. Hanging moth balls/naphthalene around the engine bay has been suggested to keep them away. Some essential oils might do the same too? There has been a number of threads on this site over the years, about the rat problem, so might be worth doing a search on here. Am sure you'll get numerous responses on this as many would have experienced these furry fellars.

Don't let it stop you doing a crossing though!


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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 15:56

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 15:56
Not Simpson Desert mice, Kate, but cousins from Clayton's Camp, on the lower Birdsville Track.

Friendly little fellars who ate their wholemeal bread and left. They were even thicker over at Muloorina campground.


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Reply By: vk1dx - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 10:02

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 10:02
We had some insulation "eaten" from the wires around a Redarc Isolator during our 2012 crossing of the Simpson. The isolator had been installed just before the trip and there wasn't any insulation missing before we went. So we can only assume that it is true. Something ate it.

Since then no issues. We purchased some of those things (naphthalene/camphor stuff??) that get hung in the toilets and have them permanently mounted under the bonnet. They were cheap and we "feel" better no matter if the issue is "real" or not.


Visitors footmarks on the 2012 Simpson Desert crossing.
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Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:31

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:31
I know that when camping at Lake Tinaroo in Qld the white tail rats will chew your cars wiring if you do not leave an led or bulb light on under the car at night. The light seems to keep them away (probably think humans are still around)...
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Reply By: cruza25 - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:54

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:54
Hi Kate
Not sure about the numbers but when we did Simpson and innamincka a few years ago we didn't see many.

But we did have a bit of under bonnet damage.
We have a 150 prado and they had nibbled on some sensor wires and injector cables on top of the engine. Nothing caused a problem luckily.

A bit of tape and cable protection was fitted as a repair.

We did set up by 3-4.00 most days and lifted the bonnet to assist cooling.

It could have been worse, I have seen some photos of really bad damage that required a recovery.

Don't let anything like that put you off, enjoy the journey, it's an amazing place.

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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 13:00

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 13:00

We came across quite a few mice the last time we crossed the Simpson .

We were still catching them with mouse traps a week later in South Oz they must have been hiding somewhere in the back of the troopie .

We could here them while we were sleeping .


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Reply By: rumpig - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 15:02

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 15:02
Did a crossing in 2010 that had a big wet in the lead up to us going,...Eyre Creek bypass opened a few weeks before we got there and there was lakes of water either side of Big Red. We didn't see a single mouse that trip, but maybe we were to early for them to breed up after the rain. Pot luck I guess as to the timing of conditions before you go there.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:29

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:29
Hi Kate

We are truely seasoned Simpson Travellers and we have only ever had them bad out there in 2011.

2010 was very wet out there but it was still too early for them to have breed up.

Wanting to fulfil one on my lifetime ambitions to kayak out in the Simpson, we returned in 2011 and what a very different story.

During daylight hours you will not see one single rodent, but come dust, they came out of the "Woodwork" as such.

We left our bonnet up and we heard some great stories from locals in Birdsville and how much damage they had done to their cars.

The worst part was feeling them run over our swag at night and then in the morning, large rat droppings over our swag.

We lived to tell the story and from all accounts, it will need a very good previous season to have them in plague proportions like in 2011.



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Reply By: AlanTH - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 09:02

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 09:02
Brings back memories of our one and only mouse e
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Reply By: AlanTH - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 09:13

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 09:13
Brings back memories of our one and only mouse experience. We camped with our van at CLiff Heads on the way north last year and there was big rain downfall over night.
Over the next day or so I sensed rather than saw a quick movement out of the corner of my eye when getting anything out of the vehicle. We laid a bait of peanut butter on a plastic takeaway thing and next morning it had gone.
Turfed everything out but not a sign of anything.
Then at our next stop I happened to tell an old chap (Fletch from Q/Land) about it and he lent us a "humane trap" made of about 50 mm square plastic tubing.
I baited it up for overnight and got 2 of the little beasts.
When I took the end off the trap the first mouse came out like a rocket straight into the spinifex followed seconds later it's mate.
Couldn't buy the traps in WA so I ordered them from the east and haven't seen a mouse since. :-)
Alan TH.
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:21

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:21
I remember driving the Hume Hwy back in the 80's south of Yass late at night and cresting a hill to be confronted with literally millions of mice forming a moving carpet that stretched a considerable distance along the road. It was like a horror movie and there was no stopping in time anyway, I would have been stationary in the middle of it.....bugger that, my wife was freaking out. We ploughed through, unfortunately causing quite a bit of mouse carnage. I wonder to this day what it would be like to be camped ANYWHERE and be in the path of that hoarde of trouble.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 08:17

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 08:17
I had a very similar experience in the Western District of Victoria about 20 years ago.
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 12:35

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 12:35
We found it quite wet out there last year when we crossed..
Found the cat urine worked a treat... sprayed around the engine bay... take about half an hour for the smell to burn off the next day.. but you get used to it... ha.. ha.. only saw a couple of mice under bonnet, not our vehicle, but others..great area, enjoy your travels... cheers Odog
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