Controlling Problem Snakes: Saipan Benefits From USGS Research

The newly released book "Problem Snake Management: The Habu and the Brown Treesnake" promises to be instrumental in helping Saipan and other Pacific Islands confront the threat of brown tree snakes, a prolific pest species that has caused health and economic hazards for Guam's residents, as well as devastating native bird, lizard, and bat populations.

Scientists consider as pests both the non-native brown tree snake and the Habu snake because of their invasion and ecological takeover of habitats in Guam and Japan, respectively. "The snakes pose serious threats to humans and the biological diversity of these islands," notes Dr. Gordon Rodda, lead editor for the book and a renowned expert on brown tree snake biology and management. "This book provides researchers and managers with guidance on managing these species based on the latest ecological, behavioral, and control technology information."

On Saipan, the USGS recently launched a major effort to trap brown tree snakes, which have been recently detected on the island for the first time. Researchers have installed nearly 400 traps in an attempt to document whether a population of snakes has been established on the island, which has no native snakes of its own. This trapping effort relies heavily on the knowledge and techniques documented in the book.

Dr. Rodda and contributing author Dr.Thomas Fritts, both scientists with USGS's Midcontinent Ecological Science Center in Colorado, are working to control the spread of the brown tree snake on Guam and to prevent the snake's spread to other islands, such as Hawaii. Brown tree snakes have been sighted on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Kwajalein, Wake, Oahu, Pohnpei, Okinawa, and Diego Garcia. To date, however, this snake is not known to be established on any of these islands except Guam and perhaps now, Saipan. Scientists warn an established brown tree snake population on any of these islands could cause enormous ecological and economic damage, as well as h

Contact: Gordon Rodda
United States Geological Survey

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