For almost 12 months now, farmers and rural landowners across southeast Australia have been devastated by a once-in-a-decade mouse plague, chewing through crops and damaging property and machinery.
While farmers have felt the brunt of this the most, our network in these areas has also been feeling the impacts, with mice gnawing their way through everything from our phone exchanges to cabling in our customers’ homes and businesses.
We know our customers in regional Australia rely on us to keep them connected and our field teams have been working tirelessly to prevent these little critters from entering and damaging our infrastructure and buildings.
How our network gets hit
Mice are sneaky little buggers, and they inherently love to chew to keep their teeth from growing. Unfortunately for us, copper and fibre cabling provide perfect chewing targets for mice to keep this urge satisfied. It also doesn’t help that they have babies every 30 days and like to chew through timber and paper within buildings to make nests for breeding.
Being so small, it can be quite easy for mice to enter buildings – whether it’s simply coming straight under the front door, squeezing through cable entry points or coming through the wall-mounted air conditioner units.
Outside of loving to chew, mice also love to nestle themselves near anything that’s warm, especially during colder months. Our transmission and internet equipment make a perfect warm environment for these mice to live in, with up to 50 mice happily living in a space as big as your bedroom closet.
The mice are also more than happy to empty themselves wherever they see fit, which can cause short circuits and faults in our electrical equipment.
Keeping the mice out
The first point of call for our team has been to try and devise ways to keep mice out of our buildings and infrastructure as best we can.
Taking a ‘better out than in’ approach – and armed with steel wool, silicone and foam filler – our technicians have focused on closing any gaps that mice could enter through by blocking light fittings, vent holes, cable points and conduits. It’s not unusual for our team working on this to open a cabinet and find a dozen tiny eyes glaring back at them, either.
Don’t forget, these little guys go to the bathroom anywhere they want, and there are a lot of them, so working to close out the gaps is a job that comes with a bit of dry-heaving for the team working on it.
Once our facilities are all sealed up, we set eco-friendly bait and traps throughout the building, leave the mice inside and come back later to see if we’ve had success.
Properly sealing everything can prove quite difficult, and it can often take two or three visits to get it completely right. Once that’s done, we finish up with a big clean-out of the facility (goodbye stench!) with the help of our health and safety team before repairing equipment.
Moving forward, outside of making sure we can keep these mice out, an important task for the team will be keeping a close eye on all our equipment for faults as it can be compromised by mice dirt.
Keeping Australia connected is at the core of everything we do and will continue to do – even if that means some of us having to occasionally fix a cable in a bit of mouse mess.