Thinking about a vacation in Guam? Think again. Not only is the tropical island infested with slithering brown tree snakes, but, unbelievably, the skies will soon be raining down dead mice riddled with painkillers, with the hope of trying to eradicate (or least contain) this slithery scourge that has plagued this South Pacific U.S. territory for 70 years.
And get this, the lifeless mice will be air-dropped in little flotation devices with streamers attached so they that land in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed. You can't make this stuff up.
It's like something out of Dante's Inferno. Makes Snakes on a Plane sound like a day at the beach.
Guam is home to barely 182,000 residents -- but has as many as 2 million brown tree snakes! The insidious three-foot long beasts reached the island as unwelcome hitchhikers on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. The havoc they've wreaked within a few decades of their arrival has been amazing.
Sure, it looks nice, but there's two million fricking brown tree snakes here.
The nocturnal creatures have decimated wildlife, birds, and domestic pets, caused thousands of power outages by slithering onto power lines, and, of course, the damned things bite residents.
And since Guam is a major transportation hub in the Pacific, trained dogs are used to search, locate, and remove brown tree snakes before outbound military and commercial cargo and transportation vessels leave the island.
Hawaii, with good reason, has long feared an invasion of the snake. A 2010 study conducted by the National Wildlife Research Center found they would cause between $593 million and $2.14 billion in economic damage each year if they became as established in Hawaii like they are on Guam -- most of it from power outages and a decline in tourism.
So the killer plan calls for an injection of acetaminophen -- the active ingredient in Tylenol and other such pain relievers -- into the dead mice. As the Associated Press reports:
The strategy takes advantage of the snake's two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn't kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.
The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.
U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.
No place on earth, say wildlife officials, has a snake problem as bad as Guam.
The mouse drop, in case you want to be there, is set to start in April or May.