Wildlife

Invasive snake wreaking havoc in the Pacific

  • Oct 07, 2014
  • 303 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image
Advertisement

Just west of the Mariana Trench, an invasive snake is breaking into new territory. The brown tree snake, which has already led many native bird species to extinction on Guam, was recently found in a mouse-baited trap on Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands.

“This prompted an immediate response by collaborators in the region,” said Adam Knox, who alongside Sylvan Igisomar is managing the ground operation in Rota for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

Brown tree snakes, which are native to places such as Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, are not only capable of wiping out birds but can also climb and have caused millions of dollars in power outages in Guam by shorting out power lines.

“There is also health concerns as these snakes have also been documented biting little children,” said Knox.

The dead snake, approximately one metre in length, was sent to Guam for necropsy and then transferred to Colorado for further analysis.

The male snake had no contents in its stomach and was underweight for its length, said Knox, suggesting that indicates a fairly recent arrival for the snake in such a prey-rich environment and not part of an incipient population.

The snakes are most active during the night when their prey (birds) are resting. It is believed the snakes may have made their way over as accidental stow away on cargo vessels, possibly during the Second World War.

“Night searches have commenced since September 4 and will remain ongoing throughout the coming months,” said Knox. “CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) originally had 46 snake traps around the island and we added another 200.”

While biologists and researchers search for them, the public is being told to be careful and kill the snake before calling authorities because it can disappear within seconds.

Advertisement

Related Content

illegal wildlife trade, elephant foot, ivory, biodiversity

Wildlife

The illegal wildlife trade is a biodiversity apocalypse

An estimated annual $175-billion business, the illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise. It stands to radically alter the animal kingdom.

  • 3405 words
  • 14 minutes
A grizzly bear lies dead on the side of the road

Wildlife

Animal crossing: Reconnecting North America’s most important wildlife corridor

This past summer an ambitious wildlife under/overpass system broke ground in B.C. on a deadly stretch of highway just west of the Alberta border. Here’s how it happened.

  • 3625 words
  • 15 minutes
Banff wildlife overpass, anniversary, national park, bear, wolf, elk, cougar

Wildlife

As Banff’s famed wildlife overpasses turn 20, the world looks to Canada for conservation inspiration

The innovative structures are heralded for having opened migration corridors and saved countless animals from vehicle collisions

  • 1586 words
  • 7 minutes

Environment

Space invasion: Is it too late to save the Great Lakes?

How a cocktail of invasive species and global change is altering the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem

  • 2231 words
  • 9 minutes