Poisonous snakes travel by plane

Boiga irregularis, is a brown-coloured, poisonous snake that has been hitchhiking from plane to plane for 80 years. Credits: Wikipedia

A recent study has suggested that Boiga irregularis, a brown-coloured, poisonous snake arrived on Guam Island in the Pacific Ocean by hitchhiking on American military plane during the Second World War. The problem is these snakes are devouring native bird population in their new habitats where there is no natural predator.   

These brown snakes have apparently become one of the most prevalent species after “hitch-hiking” across the Pacific Ocean, according to a recent study.  Everything started around 80 years ago during the Second World War.  Some of these snakes started to climb into military planes taking them from Australia to Guam Island which is located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean in the American territory.  This new venomous colonialist have now brought many threatened bird species to extinction on the island.  Apparently only three bird species are alive today.  “The impact of these snakes has been so devastating that their arrival is classed as among one of the worst ravages of all time,” the study emphasised.

Although their venom is not necessarily dangerous for humans, it is 1000 times more poisonous for birds. “It contains a toxin composed of two small toxins together which is a characteristic that is considered unique to brown snakes,” says Bryan Fry, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia, and lead author of the study. His study is published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution..

The problems is these snakes are not happy doing one journey.  Even today these snakes continue to hijack American military plane and can disperse themselves in other countries in the world.  Particularly in Hawaii where a snake has already been found in the 1990s   “[…] if these direct flights are allowed to continue, it’s only a matter of time before these snakes arrive in Hawaii and start destroying  the bird populations as they did in Guam,” warns the researcher.


Related articles: 

Rare two-headed snake found in the United States

A fungus threatens to exterminate snakes the world over

People with a fear of snakes may find it hard to cope with this new robot!