Beginning in the spring of 2020, a mouse and rat plague spread across the rural grain belt in New South Wales, Australia. Lasting for almost 10 months, the plague was described by the local media as a ‘horror’ which ‘terrorised’ farmers and ‘ravaged’ farms. Focusing predominantly on news media reporting of the plague, this article shows how the mice and rats were constructed as abject matter out of place. This construction reveals how the interspecies dynamics of managing pests render rural landscapes vulnerable and unsettle colonial imaginaries regarding the management of the Australian environment. The plague signals a disturbance of the ‘natural’ order of things where the landscape is ‘normally’ anthropocentrically managed for monocultural farming. Drawing on Chris Philo and Chris Wilbert's identification of ‘beastly spaces’, this article explores the plague as facilitating a beastly landscape that radically de-centres human control and investment in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-236
Number of pages15
JournalSociologia Ruralis
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


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