If you have seen more rodents scampering around your home or property lately, you're not alone.
Director of Ballarat-based Rid Pest Control, David Ward, said while "mouse plagues" did not occur in this area, there were significant numbers of mice and rats about at the moment.
"We are certainly seeing higher than normal seasonal averages - not just of mice but rats too," Mr Ward said.
He explained that this was the result of a combination of a good natural population in addition to seasonal changes.
In warmer weather mice happily live in paddocks but seek to move from their burrows into the warmth and comfort of a structure, including people's homes, when colder weather hits.
Mr Ward said above all this was a survival instinct and played out each year, but the numbers of mice and rats moving into people's homes were "massive" this year.
Describing it as "out of control" at the moment, the number of rodent jobs he is currently responding to is about 40 per cent higher than last season.
"It is an extraordinary season in terms of numbers and that's compounded by a number of different things - we've had quite a mild summer and there's really good food around for them," he told The Courier.
"I think they're becoming more and more apparent to people because there's just so many of them."
At one site he was recently employed at in Ballarat, he caught about 30 mice each night - a number which he said was quite significant.
Mice problems are typically more common in areas on the fringe of Ballarat, including estates in Delacombe and Lucas, due to the proximity to paddocks.
Another potential reason for the increased numbers this year is the shortage of rodenticide and bait stocked in stores.
This has been attributed to the COVID pandemic - with many of the products produced overseas - and the mice plague up north.
Mr Ward's business has not been adversely affected as he prepared his orders "well ahead of time".
The "unusual" numbers across this region have also resulted in more droppings, destruction and damage.
This season he has been called to assist at a home where mice chewed straight through plaster and another where mice chewed their way through ducts in the floor to enter a home through the central heating vents.
He has also assisted homeowners after mice chewed through a dishwasher drainage pipe, causing minor flooding in the home.
To prevent mice or rats from settling in, Mr Ward said his best advice was to prevent them from finding a property appealing in the first place: so don't leave pet food outdoors, keep lawns short and gardens and homes tidy.
If there are mice inhabiting a home, the human residents will hear noises in the roof, walls or floors.
"But the obvious one is seeing the odd mouse running around," Mr Ward said.
Mouse droppings are also a clear indicator, especially behind, beside or under the fridge - one of their favourite places.
Prolific breeders with a short gestation period, as is the time it takes for them to grow into breeding adults, mice infestations can grow quickly - thus, "early intervention is critical".
Mr Ward stressed the importance of addressing the issue as rodents living inside a home could present a significant risk of disease and bacteria transmission - from salmonella to listeria.
He urged anybody with a rodent problem to wash everything thoroughly once it is under control, especially before eating off it.
Mr Ward encouraged people to try to control the problem themselves initially, but to be wary of using poisons with pets around.
If it becomes too difficult, he said professionals were only a phone call away.
An Agriculture Victoria spokesperson said there was no mice plague in Victoria nor was one forecast, but it was closely monitoring the situation and supporting farmers with management advice.
Landholders are asked to monitor numbers to ensure they do not "become uncontrollable".
"Landholders should continue to monitor their paddocks and if concerned about any local increases in mice numbers should consider using commercially available baits registered for the control of mice."
They said increased numbers in houses might give the impression mice were significantly increasing across the landscape, but this was not necessarily the case as rodents were known to seek shelter in cooler weather.
For mouse activity subscribe to www.mousealert.org.au or follow @MouseAlert on Twitter.
For more information, visit https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/pest-animals/priority-pest-animals/house-mouse