You knew that Guam has a big problem with brown tree snakes, don’t you? If you didn’t, well now you do.
Those slithery reptiles arrived in baggage during World War II along with American soldiers who were being shipped from elsewhere in the Pacific theater to Guam. They got loose and they thrived. So much so that there aren’t any birds around (brown tree snakes love eggs in the morning, just like me).
I’ve been told by people I know who lived on Guam for a while that it’s eerie not to hear any birds in the morning (they can come to my house to hear birds in the morning if they like … those little buggers just won’t shut up).
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is trying hard – their latest gimmick is to load up dead mice with acetaminophen tablets (y’know, Tylenol) and parachute them into the forests. The chutes snag on the trees and the mice mummies just dangle there, waiting for a hungry brown tree snake to slither by.
The chutes prevent the dead mice from reaching the ground, where other animals might eat them. Since the tree snakes live in … er, trees, it seems the technique is pretty specific to them. They eat the dearly departed mice (apparently they have no problem with carrion), the acetaminophen metabolizes badly with their body chemistry, and they die.
One might question the effort. After all, wouldn’t carrion-eating birds like crows and owls and hawks and eagles get to the mice mummies first? No. Remember, the snakes got rid of them by eating their eggs a long time ago.
Stay tuned. If I learn anything more about the campaign’s success, I’ll let you know.