Two thousand mice have dropped down at the U.S. Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, wearing tiny parachutes made of cardboard and tissue paper in an effort to eradicate the brown tree snake.
Although snakes usually kill mice, this time it’s the other way around. How exactly is this possible? Simple: the mice are already dead, and full of poison.
The drop is part of an $8 million U.S. program to save the exotic native birds of Guam that are regularly killed by the brown tree snake. But Andersen Air Force Base has its own issues with the snakes as they regularly wriggle their way into an average of 80 electric substations at the base every year, costing $4 million in annual repairs.
Apparently the government has tried many different ways of getting rid of the snakes, which they say probably arrived on an poorly inspected cargo shipment in the ’50s.
The latest attempt will include the dead mice, which each contain a micro-dose of acetaminophen – the drug found in Tylenol – which is deadly to the snakes. Helicopters will make low-altitude flights over the forested areas of the base, dropping bundles of the mice in time sequences.
Some of the mice have tiny data-transmitting radios, which will help wildlife workers track the results of the drops.