Snake My Day

Guam has WWII to thank for the Brown Tree Snake. It somehow migrated to their island between the end of the war and 1952. It is believed to have come to the island as a stowaway on a ship. Or it could have found its way by crawling into the landing gear of Guam-bound aircraft. Either way it has become a terrible nuisance and many are trying to find a solution to the problem.

brown tree snake


Brown Tree Snake Problems

The real issues with these snakes is that they have only two natural predators in Guam. Feral pigs and mangrove monitors can be predators, however the populations of those are too small to help with the massive amount of snakes that have taken over the island. Another major issue the native species of birds and vertebrates face is that they have no way to protect themselves from this snake.

Guam is said to have many more insects and 40 times more spiders than neighboring islands, this is because their natural predators are severely diminished. Additionally the forests are almost completely silent due to lack of birdsong.

Guam is a major transportation hub in the Pacific. This means that a lot of opportunities exist for the brown tree snakes on Guam to be introduced accidentally to other Pacific islands as passive stowaways in ship and air traffic. To minimize this threat, trained dogs are used to search, locate, and remove brown tree snakes before outbound military and commercial cargo and transportation vessels leave the island.

More Brown Tree Snake Stuff

– They aren’t really dangerous to most people, with the exception of small children.
– Its scientific name is Boiga Irregularis.
– It is mainly nocturnal, and is rarely seen during the day.
– It has been proven that this snake caused the complete extinction of one species, the Guam Flycatcher.
– Another species, the Guam Rail or ko’ko’ bird is extinct in the wild, but is still bred in captivity.
– Other bird species threatened by the brown tree snake include the Mariana crow, the Mariana swiftlet, and the Micronesian starling. However, populations are present on other islands.

The government is doing what they can to lower the population of the Brown Tree Snake. Wildlife services have had some success dropping mice that are fed small doses of acetaminophen to lure and kill snakes. The effort has shown some positive results. I certainly hope that they find some way to help soon, a silent forest makes me sad.

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