australia mouse plague
Mice scurrying around stored grain on a farm near Tottenham, Australia, on May 19, 2021.
Rick Rycroft/AP

Swarms of mice have infiltrated a rural prison in the state of New South Wales, as Australia struggles with one of its worst mice plagues in recent history.

The rodents gnawed away at circuitry and ceiling panels in Wellington Correctional Center, and have prompted a ten-day evacuation of 200 staff and 420 inmates to other prisons, Peter Severin, the Corrective Services commissioner, told ABC News.

"The health, safety, and wellbeing of staff and inmates is our number one priority, so it's important for us to act now to carry out the vital remediation work," he said.

The prison staff must quickly clear out dead and decaying mice from walls and ceilings or risk a mite infestation afterward, he added.

A small team will remain behind to clean and repair the center, reported The Guardian.

The state's prison authority said the center's operations would be reduced for four months while it is being restored, according to the BBC.

New South Wales, in particular, has suffered from the largest influx of mice in what has been described as a "biblical plague" in eastern Australia.

According to ABC News, millions of mice have poured into farming estates, ravaged grain stocks, invaded schools and homes, and spread disease with excrement and carcasses.

Their vast numbers are mostly due to a bumper grain harvest in the region and the decline of predators after a long drought followed a series of deadly bushfires.

As the Wellington Correctional Center re-stabilizes itself, the prison will look into ways to safeguard its grounds from future mice plagues, said ABC News.

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