The Unique Characteristics of the Brown Tree Snake
The brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) is an intimidating species of reptile that’s native to New Guinea and a few other islands in the Pacific. It has distinctive characteristics that make it an intriguing animal, and people should have a better understanding of the species.
The brown tree snake is known for its nocturnal behavior, large size, and the ability to climb trees. They typically measure between 2 and 3 feet in length and are considered the largest species of arboreal snake, though they can grow to up to 10 feet. Their slender, cylindrical bodies help them to squeeze through tight spaces and climb trees rather easily.
The most distinguishing attribute of the brown tree snake is its unique pattern. It has two distinct brown stripes that run the length of its body, with a white or cream-colored belly. On their sides, you’ll notice that the two stripes merge into one large stripe, only to separate again near the tail. This is what gives them their name. The eyes are quite large and covered by gray-white scales that are separated into two distinct parts.
Interesting Habits of Brown Tree Snakes
The brown tree snake is an opportunistic feeder, which means it will consume whatever is available. While they typically feast on small rodents, lizards, and birds, they have been known to eat amphibians, fish, and even some invertebrates. It’s important to note that they don’t have venom, so they typically must constrict or swallow their prey whole.
Brown tree snakes are also infamous for their nocturnal behavior. This means they’re active during the dark hours of the night, resting or sleeping during the day. They also hibernate during colder months, though they have been known to emerge during warmer days to hunt.
Snake-lovers enjoy trying to spot brown tree snakes in the wild, as they can often be seen in the trees. This is where they tend to be most comfortable, and they may even hang from branches to survey their surroundings. In some cases, brown tree snakes can be seen swimming between islands, in search of new prey.
The Brown Tree Snake as an Invasive Species
Though they are fascinating creatures, the brown tree snake has become an incredibly invasive species. When it was first encountered outside of its natural habitat in Guam, it was believed to have been brought over aboard cargo ships. This was likely in the 1950s, and since then, the species has wrought havoc on the local ecosystem.
For starters, the brown tree snake has been responsible for the mass decimation of birds on the island. It’s believed that the snake has successfully wiped out the population of almost ten different species of birds. In addition, the snake has been known to prey on the local geckos, and the Guam Rail (also known as the Ko’ko).
What makes the situation even worse is that the snakes have practically no natural predators on the island. This means their population is growing at an alarming rate, and there are countless snakes spread throughout the region. In fact, it’s been estimated that there are over 13,000 brown tree snakes per residents on the island.
How Can We Control The Brown Tree Snake?
As it stands, the brown tree snake has had a detrimental effect on many of the island’s native species. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to control their population. In fact, there are several methods of eradicating the brown tree snake from Guam and its surrounding islands.
The first is to use different methods of deterrence. This can include anything from bright lights to loud noise. These mechanisms can be placed around certain areas, where the snakes can be seen slithering around the region.
In addition, there are certain chemistries that can be used to repel the snakes. Different substances, such as pepper, have been known to have repellent qualities that make it difficult for snakes to enter or stay in certain areas.
Lastly, there are certain traps that can be used to capture and eliminate the brown tree snake. Some of these traps use chemicals, while others use temperature to attract and contain the snake. After they’re captured, they can be either killed or relocated.
The brown tree snake is an incredibly pesky species that can be difficult to control. Depending on the region, certain methods will work better than others to reduce their population and presence. However, it’s important to remember to take protective measures when venturing out at night, as their nocturnal behavior can present some dangers. Ultimately, the brown tree snakes should be managed and respected, as to not further disrupt the native ecosystems.
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