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Guam Brown Tree Snake Eradication: Bad News for People & Wildlife

Discussion in 'Wildlife & Nature Conservation' started by findi, 18 Mar 2014.

  1. findi

    findi Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Frank Indiviglio here. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.
    As a Bronx Zoo animal-keeper in the early 1980’s, I became involved in a breeding program for Guam Rails and Micronesian Kingfishers. Both birds were facing extinction due to a most unusual threat – the introduced Brown Tree Snake, Boiga irregularis. Back then, major problems caused by trans-located snakes were unknown. Although Burmese Pythons had been established in Florida since the early 70’s, these now-famous invaders had not yet grabbed the public’s attention. A zoologist friend journeyed to Guam to investigate, and he was soon regaling me with fantastic stories. In keeping with its species name, this snake was most “irregular” – biting at the moving eyelids of sleeping children, stealing burgers from grills, and often being found in bird cages – too engorged to slip back out after having swallowed the family pet! Today, the rail and kingfisher are gone from Guam, and other birds, lizards and bats have become extinct. Yet the Brown Tree Snake has not, as was predicted, eaten itself into oblivion. Huge populations – to 13,000 snakes per square mile – are sustained by other prolific invaders, one of which is the Green Anole! Read the rest of this article here Guam Brown Tree Snake Eradication Program | That Reptile Blog
    Please also check out my posts on Twitter http://bitly.com/JP27Nj and Facebook http://on.fb.me/KckP1m

    My Bio, with photos of animals I’ve been lucky enough to work with: That Pet Place welcomes Zoologist/Herpetologist Frank Indiviglio to That Reptile Blog | That Reptile Blog

    Best Regards, Frank
     
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Frank, has anybody ever successfully rid an island of invasive snakes?

    Do you think that a massive eradication campaign could rid Guam, or parts of Guam, of the brown tree snakes?

    The California Channel Islands used to be full of invasive pigs, goats, and rats. Some of the islands form Channel Islands National Park and rats have been eliminated from Anacapa Island. Goats and pigs have been eliminated from all of the islands. As a result the native flora is rebounding as are sea bird colonies and the endemic Channel Islands fox.

    I wonder if it is theoretically possible to eradicate snakes, or are they too secretive and widespread?
     
  3. findi

    findi Well-Known Member

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    Hi David thanks for yr interest, Guam is the first example of this, and it seems unlikely the the snakes can be eliminated...hard to find all, to trap, etc and lizards provide a huge food source. Lots of research, so that may yield new answers, but herps in general are very hard to control. Perhaps can be done on small islands with less than ideal cover and food base, but no examples to draw from far as I know. Impossible in Florida and other ideal, mainland habitats also; in fact, gov't agencies there leaning towards giving up all out efforts to eliminate Burmese pythons...I'll post update soon.

    Many success stories similar to Channel Island, with mammals.

    Please post any updates you may come across also, best,. Frank
     
  4. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    I visited Guam in the early 90's and although I didn't see any snakes, I did see lots of rats which I was told provided the snakes with plenty of food. They estimated over a million snakes on the island.

    I know there have been some campaigns to remove snakes from parts of the military base with some success, but it will take a long term co-ordinated effort to remove them from the entire island and, as Frank suggested, will probably never be completely eliminated.

    :p

    Hix
     
  5. findi

    findi Well-Known Member

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    Thanks...great to have recent observations; yes, introduced species - rats and anoles - are much better equipped o cope, and seem responsible for the snakes' continued successes. Rats, anoles, geckos benefit from human presence...snakes have really found a paradise! best, Frank