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(NPR)   The U.S. Air Force is about to start bombing. Guam. With dead mice. Fueled by Tylenol. To save Hawaii. Michael Bay on standby   (npr.org) divider line 27
    More: Strange, U.S. Air Force, Michael Bay, Guam, Hawaii, air forces, tropical climate, Andersen Air Force Base  
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8744 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Feb 2013 at 9:16 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-23 10:07:38 AM
3 votes:
These snakes will eat carrion - they are actually quite flexible in their eating habits and have been seen eating road kill.

They tried the mouse drop years ago (with little parachutes on the mice) and found that many of the mice were eaten by animals other than snakes, including the endangered Marianas crow. I notice this time around they claim the crow is gone so I guess that's why they're trying this silliness again. And I believe acetaminophen is poison to most animals (including us), it depends on the dosage. Guam is full of feral cats and dogs and they really don't need any more dead dogs lying around (something that really stood out to me when I was there).
2013-02-23 07:33:10 AM
3 votes:
Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.
2013-02-23 12:45:28 PM
2 votes:

Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.


Yeah... you aren't going to breed snakes than can process tylenol. Maybe snakes that won't touch dead mice, but not tylenol.
2013-02-23 11:12:04 AM
2 votes:

walkerhound: Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.

There are more than a few problems here - I don't have a strong feeling that snakes eat dead prey.  They might, but I think they'd rather have live prey (yes I see the link in TFA, but let's see if it works in the field).  On top of that, I don't think they could drop enough mice to control all of the snakes there, unless the snakes start eating snakes that have died of acetaminophen toxicity.  (Yo dawg, I heard you like dead snakes).

Third, related to your comment - you don't get immune to a toxin, you get tolerant.  And fourth - the approach in Australia was to use rabbit paramyxovirus (a virus - which you can develop immunity towards), which has close to 99% lethality in outbred rabbits and is considered a foreign animal disease in the US.  It's bad.  But 1% of 100,000,000 rabbits is still 1,000,000 - plenty of rabbits to keep the population going and they have a quick enough reproductive rate to show a quick rebound with immunity.  That herd immunity is probably long gone, now.

Wonder why they haven't tried mongoose?  Something that keeps working after taking out the first snake.


they used the mongoose in hawaii for rats I think.
Kinda weird if you don't know this and encounter a mongoose
while walking.
2013-02-23 11:09:43 AM
2 votes:

Karac: I was under the impression that snakes would only eat live prey?


Apparently are some other people. From TFA: "Some readers in the comments thread have expressed surprise that snakes would eat dead - not live - mice "

However, it's an incorrect impression.

Many snakes are perfectly happy to eat dead prey. I suspect they've tested this with brown tree snakes. Like many snake owners, I feed frozen. Not only is it more convenient (and less guilt-inducing because you're not buying your snake snacks in little boxes that say "Somebody loves me! I'm going home!") but no snake was ever bitten to death by a dead rat. On snake-feeding day, I just get some of the frozen rodents out, thaw them, and serve. I do warm them up, but given that when he was a hatchling my Pueblan milk snake would not so much as stick his head out of his hide box until the room was dark, which was more than enough time for his frozen/thawed mouse pup to cool back to room temperature, he was clearly hunting by scent, not temperature.

I've had no trouble transitioning wild-caught snakes to pre-killed prey -- in one case, when I couldn't get fish for a water snake one Pennsylvania winter, I fed him grocery-store fish sticks (breading removed). He smelled fish, found his fish sticks, and ate them right away. Three wild-caught garter snakes ate raw ground beef mixed with calcium and vitamins out of a dish, like tiny dogs -- and they bit off bite-sized pieces of it. That implies this was a pre-existing behavior: they were hardwired to bite off mouthfuls of soft, room-temperature meat. Snakes may scavenge more than we think, especially the species in Thamnophis and Nerodia.

/geek off
2013-02-23 11:00:38 AM
2 votes:

Thats No Moose: Also, to those wondering if snakes eat dead mice, FTFA: ...


I thought snakes that do eat dead prey (is it prey if it's dead?) was a result of learned behaviour when they had been very hungry in the past and the types of snakes that will eat dead things will tend to not eat dead food if there are other food sources around.

If acetaminophen poisoning takes about 5 days in humans, how long does it take in mice and or snakes?  I assume it will kill by destroying the liver which is a very unpleasant way to go.  The dead mice aren't "dead mice walking?"
2013-02-23 10:57:20 AM
2 votes:

SnarfVader: Plus, when wintertime rolls around, the mice simply freeze to death


No winter in Guam, and the mice are already dead.

Karac: I was under the impression that snakes would only eat live prey?


This species of snake is unusual in that it will scavenge.
2013-02-23 10:20:59 AM
2 votes:

sneathbean: These snakes will eat carrion - they are actually quite flexible in their eating habits and have been seen eating road kill.

They tried the mouse drop years ago (with little parachutes on the mice) and found that many of the mice were eaten by animals other than snakes, including the endangered Marianas crow. I notice this time around they claim the crow is gone so I guess that's why they're trying this silliness again. And I believe acetaminophen is poison to most animals (including us), it depends on the dosage. Guam is full of feral cats and dogs and they really don't need any more dead dogs lying around (something that really stood out to me when I was there).


Agreed. Though I posted in support of pesticide airdrops on islands for rodent eradication efforts, I'm somewhat skeptical of the dead rodents stuffed with Tylenol thing. But, that's what field trials are for, and that's what this sounds like.
We shall see.
2013-02-23 09:41:43 AM
2 votes:

Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.


Snakes aren't bacteria, a species of snake can't become immune to something in a fortnight.

By the way, to people flipping out, they have been using this method to control snake populations for years, because while tylenol is a lethal poison to snakes, it's mostly harmless to other wildlife. Not that that's an issue on Guam, because the snakes humans introduced there ate absolutely farking everything else on the whole damn island(or at least will have in a few years.)
2013-02-23 09:38:51 AM
2 votes:

Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.


There are more than a few problems here - I don't have a strong feeling that snakes eat dead prey.  They might, but I think they'd rather have live prey (yes I see the link in TFA, but let's see if it works in the field).  On top of that, I don't think they could drop enough mice to control all of the snakes there, unless the snakes start eating snakes that have died of acetaminophen toxicity.  (Yo dawg, I heard you like dead snakes).

Third, related to your comment - you don't get immune to a toxin, you get tolerant.  And fourth - the approach in Australia was to use rabbit paramyxovirus (a virus - which you can develop immunity towards), which has close to 99% lethality in outbred rabbits and is considered a foreign animal disease in the US.  It's bad.  But 1% of 100,000,000 rabbits is still 1,000,000 - plenty of rabbits to keep the population going and they have a quick enough reproductive rate to show a quick rebound with immunity.  That herd immunity is probably long gone, now.

Wonder why they haven't tried mongoose?  Something that keeps working after taking out the first snake.
2013-02-24 03:49:06 AM
1 votes:

SpaceBison: Just like DDT and mosquitos. They didn't stop using it because it was killing off all of the eagles but rather that it just wasn't effective anymore.


Nice to see that someone else gets it.

I've seen people lately talking about DDT like it's some kind of miracle pesticide, and will solve all our problems if only those pesky environmentalists didn't care about things like bald eagles. Problem is .. it wasn't, and it isn't. When it was first introduced, it looked like a miracle because it was being used on totally naive populations. Rather like penicillin in that regard, actually, and about as useful as the original penicillin today. Overuse and improper use of DDT and other pesticides has given us the mosquito equivalents of MSRA. If you used DDT today on the same populations that it almost entirely wiped out a few decades ago, the bugs would laugh little tiny bug laughs because they -- unlike the predators that keep them in check -- have developed resistance to it, and in fact started doing so within a few years of its first use.

Mosquitoes are R-selectors -- that is, they have thousands of offspring that compete for survival, and rapidly restore their populations if something wipes out most of them. Most mosquitoes' predators are K-selectors -- they have only a few offspring, with proportionally more investment in each. (as extreme examples of each, consider oysters and elephants) Wipe out 99.99% of the mosquitoes in an area and the .01% that have a natural resistance to your pesticide (which, in the case of DDT, isn't uncommon) will repopulate that niche with resistant mosquitoes in a generation. But you've also killed off the mosquitoes' predators, and not only does it take a lot longer to restore a population of, say, geckos that have only a half-dozen offspring per year, but if you kill off 99.99% of them, the odds are that the survivors do not constitute a stable breeding population. So within a few years you have a nasty combination of DDT-resistant mosquitoes and no predators to eat them -- and an even worse problem than you started with.

If we had been continuously and widely using DDT for the past 50 years ... well, we wouldn't be. It would be a footnote in pesticide history, long ago replaced by ...  basically, by all the pesticides that have replaced it. Despite the fetishization of DDT by some people with an entire shed full of axes to grind, it's just a pesticide, and not a particularly remarkable one at that. We have better ones now.
2013-02-23 07:13:26 PM
1 votes:

JerkyMeat: [fotki.ykt.ru image 640x480]
Many mahalos, from my people.


Izzy! Very cool dude. Too bad he died :(
2013-02-23 03:21:54 PM
1 votes:
douchebag/hater:


I could have lived the rest of my life without knowing what's contained in TFA.

What a CF.

And of environmental proportions too


Just wait until you hear how a cheap veterinary drug used on cattle caused a boom in rabid dogs and rats.
2013-02-23 02:33:32 PM
1 votes:
I read the headline and immediately knew what it would be about.  It sounds like a silly idea, but scientists have been on the ground in Guam studying the problem for decades.  It's one of the most famous, most intensely studied, and perhaps best understood (given the size of the island) instances of ecological disruption from invasive species.  I guarantee that if the plan doesn't work, it won't be because of a simple failure to think things through and apply math and common sense.
2013-02-23 11:49:09 AM
1 votes:

mlorton: SnarfVader: Plus, when wintertime rolls around, the mice simply freeze to death

No winter in Guam, and the mice are already dead.


Here you go.
2013-02-23 11:44:46 AM
1 votes:

pla: If it takes some dude who plays accordion for a living to point out that things other than snakes eat mice, then yes, they should have asked on Fark before proceeding with this brilliant plan that will also kill cats, birds (the same birds they want to protect, no less), dogs, a variety of amphibians, and so on.


Cats are not native to Guam. Neither are dogs. The birds in question (those that survive) do not eat mice. Amphibians eat much smaller prey, and actually do need it to be moving. And the birds that are small enough to be eaten by brown tree snakes are too small to eat mice (the birds in question are actually insectivores). So ... um ... don't quit that day job with the accordion.
2013-02-23 11:35:36 AM
1 votes:
2013-02-23 10:57:58 AM
1 votes:

badhatharry: Tylenol goes in the mice. Mice go in the snakes. Snakes go in the ground. Ground goes in the ground water. Ground water goes in your liver.


What exactly is the problem here?  Getting Tylenol into your system by drinking groundwater that might be contaminated with it is the same brand of nonsense as homeopathy.
2013-02-23 10:37:03 AM
1 votes:

walkerhound: Wonder why they haven't tried mongoose?


Because they can't climb trees to deal with tree snakes?

Also, to those wondering if snakes eat dead mice, FTFA:

Update at 3:15 p.m. ET. Live Vs. Dead Bait:
Some readers in the comments thread have expressed surprise that snakes would eat dead - not live - mice.
The researchers also concluded that "other tactics to increase area of coverage and decrease labor costs, such as aerial application of baits, would improve the cost efficiency of the baiting method over trapping even further."
Our thanks to reader Daniel Levitis for leading to that study.
2013-02-23 10:28:10 AM
1 votes:

NutWrench: I'm imagining thousands it parachuting white mice, accompanied by Wagners Ride of the Valkyries


I came here looking for pics of this very event, and must leave disappointed.
2013-02-23 10:12:55 AM
1 votes:

Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.


I think you meant pretty successful, at least on islands wanting to get rid of rodents. As of 2007, the success/fail ratio has been 332-35, and since then you can add Palmyra, Johnston, and Rat Island (AK) to the list of success stories. Wake Atoll was done last May, so that hasn't been called yet (generally 2 years with no sign of rats is considered a successful campaign) but it looks good there.

Just one abstract cite, you can wade through the rest of the literature if you like by Googling "Rodent eradication + islands".
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17883491 --National Institutes of Health
2013-02-23 09:53:31 AM
1 votes:

Jon iz teh kewl: i personally can't tolerate tylenol, because i drink over 4 drinks a day, rendering my liver useless


You should be careful not to eat any dead mice then.
2013-02-23 09:50:29 AM
1 votes:

Karac: I was under the impression that snakes would only eat live prey?


These type of snakes eat dead prey too.
2013-02-23 09:31:58 AM
1 votes:
I'm imagining thousands it parachuting white mice, accompanied by Wagners Ride of the Valkyries
2013-02-23 09:28:01 AM
1 votes:
Yeah, humanity, you're just chock full of great ideas.
2013-02-23 09:27:52 AM
1 votes:

Ghastly: Good luck with that. Using toxins to attempt a mass extermination of a species tends not to be too successful. The toxins may kill 99% of the species but then the remainder will reproduce and in a short while you've got a population that is immune to the poison. I believe they tried that with an invasive rabbit species in Australia and it ended up coming back stronger than ever.


If you're referring to myxomatosis, it was actually extremely effective, as far as I'm aware, though resistance was eventually gained after a few decades (and then they released a different virus). However, myxomatosis was a virus, not a toxin, so not quite the same thing.

It definitely worked much better than the hair brained scheme to introduce Canetoads to combat cane beetles... That was a bad idea.
2013-02-23 09:27:17 AM
1 votes:
Those poor... What do we call them? Guambats? The Guamish? Guammy Bears?
 
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