Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/4/2013 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Mice are part of a local eradication effort against the brown tree snake.

It's raining dead mice on Guam. Last Saturday two thousand dead-mouse carcasses rained down on a portion of the island as part of an effort to eradicate the brown tree snake, an invasive species that has for sixty years or more, consumed virtually everything in sight.

Two thousand dead mice rained on Guam on Saturday as part of an effort to eradicate snakes.

Two thousand dead mice rained on Guam on Saturday as part of an effort to eradicate snakes.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/4/2013 (4 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Guam, brown tree snake, eradication, mice, tylenol, poison, venom, birds, invasive, species, acetaminophen


ANDERSEN AFB, GUAM (Catholic Online) - The brown tree snake is one of the best examples of how much havoc an invasive species can wreak on a habitat. Introduced sometime between the end of WWII and 1952, the snake, indigenous to Australia and New Guinea, made its way onto the island aboard a poorly-inspected cargo flight.

The snakes, and there were likely more than one, found a land overflowing with food in abundance and zero predators. The population exploded, at one time reaching a density of 100 snakes per hectare. Their thin, long bodies allow them to scale trees rapidly where they can search the foliage for food.

Birds made the snake's favorite food and following 1952, the native bird population plummeted. Several species became locally extinct. People were confronted with the slightly-venomous snakes in their homes and yards, family pets were lost. Today the snakes cause about 80 power outages a year just by slithering into electric substations. Officials say the infestation causes about $4 million in annual damages.

The snakes infest the entire island and are commonly seen in yards and other personals paces where one would not care to see a snake. Furthermore, they are aggressive when confronted.

In the absence of natural predators, the brown tree snake can grow to 9 feet in length.

In the absence of natural predators, the brown tree snake can grow to 9 feet in length.


About 2 million of the snakes are thought to inhabit Guam with a current density of about 13,000 per square mile. That's more snakes than inhabit the Amazon rainforests.

Aircraft out of Guam have also been contaminated with the snakes. At least one flight to Texas managed to have a snake aboard. Snakes have been caught attempting to deplane flights from Guam to neighboring islands too, including Hawaii where they could pose a significant threat.

To control the snakes a variety of methods have been used. Snake-sniffing dogs have proven most effective at inspecting cargo and finding the reptiles before they can board the planes.

However, without an effective natural predator available, officials have settled on one powerful control- mice.

These are not ordinary mice. The two thousand mice that rained down on Andersen AFB on Saturday were euthanized and pumped full of acetaminophen, common Tylenol, which is lethal to the brown tree snake.

A tiny dose, just one-sixth the does in a single pill is enough to poison a brown tree snake that can be longer than nine feet in length. And it's powerfully effective. In previous experiments where Tylenol-laced mice have been dropped, the snakes were entirely wiped out with a zero percent survival rate.

After being euthanized and pumped with acetaminophen, each mouse carcass was attached by string to two pieces of cardboard and green tissue paper. The makeshift parachute is ideal for catching branches over forested areas which leaves the mice hanging in the trees where the snakes prefer to hunt. Some of the mice are equipped with radio transmitters to help biologists track what's happening.

The parachute contraption for the poisoned mice.

The parachute contraption for the poisoned mice.


To the snakes, the dead mice make for a snack too tempting to pass up. They smell delicious and don't require killing-it's the snake equivalent of a free lunch. But as any mouse would tell you, the only thing that's free is the cheese in the mousetrap.

As the snakes digest their free lunch the acetaminophen goes to work poisoning and killing the reptile.

Within the past several years, the brown tree snake population on Guam has been dropping. Biologists believe the snakes have saturated the island and now exceed the carrying capacity of the island to support their population. In other words, they have eaten themselves to starvation.

However the brown tree snake is good at surviving for long periods without food and although the population has been dropping, there is still food to be found on the island, particularly in the form of birds, which although scarce, continue to live in the trees.

Mother nature will cull the herd to a point where an equilibrium is established between the snakes and their food, but not without further, permanent damage to the ecosystem and human industries. To finish off the two-million snake population a lot more mice will be needed for years, possibly decades to come.

That may be unrealistic because of the costs and labor involved so the most likely scenario is a long-term détente between man and snake which may be broken by the occasional mouse-drop. Until then, double-check anything that comes shipped from Guam-unless it's Tylenol for some odd reason.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Asia Pacific

Baby born with headless twin, four hands, recovering after surgery Watch

Image of The conjoined twins weighed just over three kilograms before surgery, with the removed parasitic fetus weighing 0.6kg.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 13-day-old baby boy now has a greater chance at a normal life after doctors have removed superfluous limbs from him. Now in stable condition, the child was born with a headless, parasitic twin. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The child was born with four ... continue reading


DON'T READ THIS if you're squeamish Watch

Image of Both men had been married with children. Their wives reportedly left them before being detained by police three years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Don't read this following article if you are in any squeamish or delicate in nature. We mean it. Two Brothers in Pakistan have been arrested for cannibalism after a young boy's head was found in their squalid home. The two had run into trouble with the law ... continue reading


Indian slums switch to solar powered lamps Watch

Image of Many poor urban communities in India are forced to live by candlelight. Slum tenants also use polluting fuels like kerosene, or

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the slums of New Delhi, India, where starvation, disease and filth run rampant, a most extraordinary thing is happening. The poor here are being given solar lamps in order to use cleaner energy. The smoke from kerosene lamps, in addition to wood burning ... continue reading


Tantalizing clues persist in Flight 370 mystery as searchers dive deep Watch

Image of The Bluefin 21 submersible will scan the seafloor for any signs of wreckage. Each mission will take about 24 hours to complete and another day will be needed to prepare Bluefin for a second mission. The search could take weeks.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

International search efforts for Malaysia Air Flight 370 continue in the Indian Ocean, over a thousand miles off the coast of Perth Australia. Although investigators believe the batteries that power the data recorders are likely dead, other tantalizing clues about the ... continue reading


Chinese seek out Christ on Internet - over Chairman Mao Watch

Image of A search for the term referring to unregistered Christian organizations in China produces a blank search page with a notice reading,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, has revealed a highly interesting fact. As the Chinese Communist Party rigorously censors any mention of any potential religious influence, such as Islam, Tibetan Buddhism and Christianity, it comes as a surprise that ... continue reading


Ukraine instability raises fear of gas shortages in Europe Watch

Image of Gazprom says that it could demand advance payments from Kiev for gas this week. President Putin says Gazprom should hold off, pending talks with

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Russia's "theft" of Crimea has brought international condemnation, fears of a new cold war and made Ukraine highly nervous of a military takeover. In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned European leaders that Ukraine's failure to pay for ... continue reading


Auto sales in China increase by nine percent Watch

Image of Passenger vehicle sales in China have risen nine percent year-on-year for the month of March.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a sign of China's growing middle class - in addition to trying to beat the clock before new regulations go into effect. Passenger vehicle sales in China have risen nine percent year-on-year for the month of March. The sudden surge is driven by delayed new ... continue reading


Running dry: Pakistan is running out of water Watch

Image of The World Resources Institute late last year ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Lack of planning coupled with lack of rainfall is pushing Pakistan into a very precarious corner. With only 30 days of water in reserve, the Southeast Asian nation's agriculture, industry and hydropower are at grave risk. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Sold into marriage: National shame over India's trafficked brides Watch

Image of Girls between the ages of 13 and 21 are the ones in most demand. The maximum price for a young girl is $333 in U.S. dollars.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's something you would expect in scattered, rural sections in developing nations, and not in the world's largest democracy. Women in India are routinely sold by families into forced marriages, who are then passed around by other husbands. According to the ... continue reading


Will new elections in the world's largest democracy benefit Indian women? Watch

Image of As the world's largest democracy, India, heads to the polls, the question arises: Will the three main political parties satisfactorily address the rampant gender inequity with their nation?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the world's largest democracy, India, heads to the polls, the question arises: Will the three main political parties satisfactorily address the rampant gender inequity with their nation? There has been strides made after a horrific gang rape aboard a ... continue reading


All Asia Pacific News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 52:13--53:12
13 Look, my servant will prosper, will grow great, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
2 turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a ... Read More

Gospel, John 18:1--19:42
1 After he had said all this, Jesus left with his ... Read More

Reading 2, Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
14 Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2014 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter