Trapping brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis; BTS) with live-mouse (Mus domesticus) lures is the principal control technique for this invasive species on Guam. Lure-based trapping is also used on other islands as a precaution against undetected arrivals and in response to verified BTS sightings. However, the effectiveness of lure-based trapping on other islands is questionable, as it has yielded no BTS despite other evidence of their presence. Some evidence suggests that high rodent numbers may interfere with BTS control. To test the relationship between rodent abundance and snake trappability, we conducted a controlled, replicated field experiment incorporating a rodenticide treatment during a BTS mark-recapture study. Using open population modeling in Program MARK, we estimated BTS apparent survival and recapture probabilities. Rodent reduction increased BTS recapture probabilities by 52-65% in 2002 and 22-36% in 2003, and it decreased apparent survival by <1% both years. This appears to be the first published instance of manipulating wild prey to influence snake behavior. Rodent reduction may enhance detection and control of BTS with traps on Guam and other islands. It may also amplify the effectiveness of oral toxicants against BTS.
Additional publication details
Response of brown treesnakes to reduction of their rodent prey