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Parachuting mice to tackle invasive snakes

Posted on Wednesday, 4 December, 2013 | Comment icon 23 comments

The brown snake is considered an invasive species. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Maberlyn
More than 2000 mice laced with painkillers have been airdropped by parachute from a helicopter over Guam.
The Pacific island has been inundated with brown snakes, an invasive species that is highly damaging to local birds and wildlife while proving extremely difficult to control. Thought to have arrived in Guam in the 1950s, the snakes have also inflicted millions of dollars worth of damage by wriggling in to electrical substations and causing power outages.

In a bid to solve the problem, authorities have taken to lacing mice with the painkiller Tylenol and then dropping them by parachute from a helicopter over the affected areas. While the drug's active ingredient, acetaminophen, is harmless to most other wildlife it has proven to be uniquely deadly to the snakes.

The key to the plan's success lies in the design of the unique mouse parachutes which consist of two pieces of cardboard and a piece of green tissue paper.

"The cardboard is heavier than the tissue paper and opens up in an inverted horseshoe," said wildlife biologist Dan Vice. "It then floats down and ultimately hangs up in the forest canopy. Once it's hung in the forest canopy, snakes have an opportunity to consume the bait."

Source: NBC News | Comments (23)

Tags: Mice, Snakes

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by Sundew on 6 December, 2013, 3:50
Perhaps what is needed to control the population is a specialized snake eating predator. The Mussurana might be a good choice, it is also a snake and like the Brown Tree Snake mildly venomous, but unlike it, it is not aggressive, rarely bites even if handled, and prefers eating other snakes as prey. It is immune to pit viper venom and is used to control pit vipers in areas where both occur naturally. Of course this does not guarantee immunity to Tree Snake venom which, is however, much milder than that of a pit viper. While you might say that now instead of one exotic snake you would have two,... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Chooky88 on 6 December, 2013, 7:12
Well, it's a start, but I agree, they will need a few million mice, Maybe sterile ones? Can that be done without an operation?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Eldorado on 6 December, 2013, 17:09
They could train some elite paratrooper mice. The SSS! (Special Squeak Service)
Comment icon #17 Posted by Taun on 6 December, 2013, 22:56
They'd be really good for Squeak attacks...
Comment icon #18 Posted by Mark56 on 7 December, 2013, 2:12
Send in Roadrunners. They're a nice little bird to have in your garden. I live in the New Mexico, USA (it's the state bird). They kill and eat Diamondback Rattlesnakes and eat them. They'd make light work of these brown snake b*******.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Mark56 on 8 December, 2013, 4:46
Send in the Greater Roadrunners instead. They'll kill those miserable Brown snakes.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Chooky88 on 9 December, 2013, 22:34
Comment icon #21 Posted by Azznerak the Black on 21 December, 2013, 21:09
Makes you wonder what they will parachute in next to deal with the mice...
Comment icon #22 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 24 December, 2013, 18:34
That was my first mental image as well upon reading the topic LOL!
Comment icon #23 Posted by Xynoplas on 24 December, 2013, 22:45
They tried mongooses in Hawai'i and now they have a mongoose problem. Any outside animal that you import is going to become invasive and eat the native wildlife. Dead mice is a brilliant solution, as long as you don't have native birds that will eat them and be wiped out...

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