If you give a mouse a parachute ...

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.


  1. 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

        1.  If you’re a contractor, you don’t argue with a boilerplate RFP.  If it’s parachutes they ask for, it’s parachutes we’ll provide them with.

        2. “To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.”

      1.  Not surprised.  How to use dead mice to multiply was pretty much forgotten by mankind after the invention of the mechanical calculator.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1.  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.

  4. 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.

      1. unless of course the pain killers give the illusion of death and someone forgets the “Kill the Mouse” stage of the plan.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

    1.  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

    2. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. “While living in England, Austin had been an avid hunter, regularly dedicating his weekends to rabbit shooting. Upon arriving in Australia, which had no native rabbit population, Austin asked his nephew William Austin in England to send him 12 grey rabbits, five hares, 72 partridges and some sparrows so he could continue his hobby in Australia by creating a local population of the species.”


  8. 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. 

  9. 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…

  10. 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.

    1. 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?

  11. 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

  12. 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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