First Snakes, Now Spiders Take Over Guam
Tree snakes devoured most of the spider-eating birds
By Dustin Lushing, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2012 5:13 PM CDT
A brown treesnake slithering in Guam.   (AP Photo/US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gordon Roda, File)

(Newser) – First it was two million snakes. Now spiders are taking over Guam. The tiny island is experiencing a population explosion of arachnids because a vast, invasive army of snakes ate most of the native birds, the spiders' natural predator. Biologists say Guam's jungle currently holds 40 times more spiders than are found on nearby islands. "You can't walk without a stick in your hand to knock down the spiderwebs," says a researcher.

The brown tree snake was originally transported to Guam during World War II, and now millions slither through its terrain. The reptile horde has eaten out of existence 10 of Guam's 12 native bird species. "There's no other place you can look to see what happens when birds are removed over an entire landscape," said a scientist. "Any time you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders."

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Kenja
Sep 15, 2012 10:42 AM CDT
I've stopped at the base in Guam several times and the groundskeepers were always snatching up snakes outside and inside the terminal.
JackNelsonSteward
Sep 15, 2012 8:02 AM CDT
When enough of the birds, and whatever else they eat, disappear, the snake population will shrink to only what the island can support. When the insect population thins enough, the spider population will drop to only what the island can support. The "biosphere" on the island will establish it own equilibrium. Too bad it'll probably cost us a dozen unique species and along the way. There is nowhere I can think of right off hand where man has introduced a species to control another species that there haven't been major unforseen and unwanted outcomes. Y'just gotta let it find it's balance.
Sgt.SaltyDawg
Sep 15, 2012 6:25 AM CDT
I think one way to get rid of all of those snakes is to put some king cobras on the island and watch those brown tree snakes disappear! It would be a smorgasbord for the king cobra since the only thing a king cobra eats is other snakes. Or perhaps a mongoose as was suggested by American Empire.