Humans brought the brown tree snake to Guam about 60 years ago. Since then, the reptiles have slithered their way across the island — devouring whole bird species as they went. The snakes are such a threat to bird life on Guam that authorities have decided to resort to drastic measures. Beginning later this spring, they'll drop an armada of painkiller-spiked dead mice onto the island. One tiny parachute per mouse. The hope is that snakes will eat the mice and OD on painkillers. This is not a joke.

53 Responses to “If you give a mouse a parachute ...”

  1. Roose_Bolton says:

    The story so mice it got posted twice : )

  2. Jerry Ritcey says:

    Next they need to bring in cats to chase out the extra mice, dogs to chase the cats, and pretty soon drones to kill everything on the island

  3. kris erickson says:

    Funny the children’s book reference, since there’s also (and perhaps more famously) “The Day They Parachuted Cats on Borneo” (1971) – found in, for example, http://www.amazon.ca/dp/0814757219

  4. oasisob1 says:

    Nuke it from orbit, etc.

  5. spocko says:

    I’m sure nothing will go wrong with this. 

  6. Steve White says:

    Now it will be an island of drug addicted snakes.

  7. Ian Wood says:

    No one has mentioned frozen gorillas yet?

  8. snailspace says:

    Every time you think the brown tree snake story can’t get any weirder… My personal favorite was the introduction of mongooses (mongeese?) to various islands in Japan and the Caribbean, only to find that they don’t especially like climbing trees, which is where you might expect to find a tree snake, but will happily eat all sorts of native species.

    Some more good details on Boiga irregularis here: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/22751a/22751a.pdf

  9. Cherie S says:

    I lived on the island of Guam for 4 years.  Personally, I believe the whole Brown Tree Snake infestation is a big bunch of bull, designed to pour Federal dollars into the corrupt GovGuam.  I worked in the thick of the brush, I worked in abandoned buildings, I worked in the antenna fields…. I only saw 2 snakes and one was dead.  When we left the island, we had to pay $$$ to have a dog come sniff our personal goods for snakes.

    Mariah Carey came to the island when I lived there.  Not to perform, but to look for snakes and release birds.

    • Dave Jenkins says:

      I would tend to agree with your assessment– this is a sham used to shovel money to Guam.  The key giveaway for me is the ‘parachute’ for dead mice.  That must take a whole lot of expensive labor.

      • wysinwyg says:

         Or you could RTFA and see the reason for the parachutes.

        You guys would make a much more credible case if you offered actual evidence for your opinions.

  10. Fighting mousies from the sky,
    Fearless mice who jump and die…

  11. Dave Pease says:

    oh great, we’re breeding tylenol-resistant brown supersnakes now.

  12. Aurvondel says:

    As long as they don’t drop too many on one part of Guam, which is a very unstable island. It could easily tip over and capsize.

  13. Kelly M says:

    Sterile mice, one hopes.

  14. Rachael Hoffman-Dachelet says:

    Wow, my first thought was about the junkies heading into the bush to eat dead mice for a fix.  Are there many junkies on Guam I wonder?

  15. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I guess that none of these people has ever had a pet snake.  They’re not big on eating dead meat.  It would make more sense to give the mice some slow-acting poison.

    • ocker3 says:

       Our High School biology teacher always had to move the mouse around as if it was alive to get the snake to eat it. Perhaps that’s one of the points of the parachutes, they’re likely to catch in the branches and sway in the breeze

    • Beanolini says:

      All of the pet snakes I ever kept would eat dead prey, though admittedly some did need a bit of encouragement. 

      Brown tree snakes don’t seem to have a problem with dead prey- they can be trapped using dead mice as bait, and have even been found to take cooked spare ribs.

  16. rocketpjs says:

    Or put little time bombs in the mice, and wait until they are eaten then explode them.

    I seem to recall a similar spiral of stupidity in Haida Gwaii here in BC over the last century.  Someone liked hunting deer, so introduced them to the island.  Then the deer, with no predators, started eating all the saplings.  So introduce squirrels to spread seeds, which then start eating rare bird eggs.  Etc Etc.  Humans are so dumb.

  17. toobigtofail says:

    Sheesh. Next they’ll be releasing rabbits in Australia…

  18. Lyle Hopwood says:

    I wonder how many generations of brown snakes it will take before the surviving snakes only take live mice? Probably not long, as many snakes are hesitant to take dead prey already. 

  19. fredges says:

    Been to Guam. Not impressed. It seemed nobody cared about preserving it. But the hotels were opulent shrines to the almighty dollar! Too bad, it could be better than Hawaii…

  20. Garymon says:

    Well now that we have zombie cells: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2282514/Zombie-cells-created-lab–outperform-living-counterparts.html How far away can zombie mice be? I’m sure the zombie mice could kill all of the snakes and nothing would ever go wrong.

  21. Wikipedia sez that the the red bellied black snake and cane toad are predating on the brown tree snake.

    Obviously it’s time to drop the commando units onto the unsuspecting brown tree snakes on parachutes. 

    Of course both the black snake and cane toad are generalist predators, so they would also eat everything else, and the brown tree snake is also a generalist, who would feed on the red bellied black snake and cane toad.

    However this problem can be solved by introducing a species predating on the cane toad such as eel, catfish, caiman, ibis, black rat etc.

    In turn these are all generalists, so you would have to invent a control for them, so obviously you’d have to start airdropping cats to eat the rats and other predators. Unfortunately there aren’t any natural predating species on caiman.

    However this problem could be solved by airdropping humans to shoot those top predators.

    The problem is that humans themselves being generalists have no natural enemy, and would just destroy the habitat.

    So to solve that problem it would be best to nuke them from orbit, just to be sure.

    • ldobe says:

      The anaconda preys on caiman, but it’s not a common food source when there’s a bunch of easier prey.

      Also, Jurassic Park. Engineer a bunch of lysine deficient anacondas, and deny them artificial supplements when their job is done. Nothing could go wrong with that plan, right?

  22. Surprised no one has pointed out that swallowing the parachute (how would a snake remove it) is probably even more dangerous to the snake than the drugs

  23. Eric Riley says:

    I used to work for the Government Printing Office, and one of my favorite government documents ever was the resource guide about the Brown Tree Snake of Guam. Primarily because the related resources section includes recipes! http://www.fort.usgs.gov/resources/education/bts/toc.asp

  24. Norman Keena says:

    Guam.. in’t like guano.. like bird shite…  no birds no shite , no bird shite not fish, no birds… don’t blame the garden of eden for having snakes

  25. I heard the parachute has “Safe for Brown Tree Snake consumption only” printed on them. Soy based, paraben free ink of  course..

  26. Matthew Bondy says:

    The comments on the linked to article making reference to Pinky & The Brain are pretty good but the idea to play Ride of the Valkyries during the drop is sheer genius.

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