Mice Dropped on Guam Laced With Drugs to Kill 2 Million Snakes

In an effort to rid the island of Guam of the brown tree snake problem that has caused major disruption at Andersen Air Force Base, 2,000 rodents laced with poison were dropped onto the island.

The rodents were dropped via parachute and is the fourth time such action has taken place this year since the U.S. approved an $8 million program aimed at eradicating the estimated 2 million snakes currently on the island, according to NBC.

The snakes pose a problem for the native bird species, but officials at Andersen Air Force Base want the snakes removed due to the damage to electrical substations caused by the intrusive snakes.

The result is causing a roughly 100 power outages a year, which totals nearly $4 million in repairs.

"Every time there is a technique that is tested and shows promise, we jump on that bandwagon and promote it and help out and facilitate its implementation," Tino Aguon, acting chief of the U.S. Agriculture Department's wildlife resources office for Guam, told KUAM in Hagatna.

The snakes are not actually filled with poison but acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol. Even a small dose, 80 milligrams, is enough to kill the snake.

The mice are filled with acetaminophen and are dropped with parachutes onto the forest canopy where the snakes are able to eat them.

The method is efficient and safe as other animals do not react the way snakes do when consuming acetaminophen.

"One reason acetaminophen is so effective for snakes is that it's very low toxicity to other organisms," Dan Vice, U.S. Department of Agriculture assistant state director supervisory wildlife biologist, told KUAM. "Of all the organisms in the forest to be concerned about the monitor lizards, the iguanas is probably the one that is potentially at risk but because the baits are hung up in the forest canopy and not distributed on the floor the monitors aren't going to encounter the baits with great frequency the monitors climb trees but they tend not to feed in trees."