U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

June 2001


Published in Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 27, No. 7, 2001.


Brown treesnakes are an invasive species to the island of Guam that have caused extensive ecological and economic damage. Efforts to control the snake population have included trapping using live mouse lures, but for logistical and economic reasons a synthetic lure is needed. When searching for live food, brown treesnakes use both visual and odor cues. However, when searching for carrion, odor cues are sufficient. Attempts to develop synthetic lures based on chemical reconstruction of the complex carrion odor have not succeeded. We provide evidence that a microbial–substrate interaction is important for bait take by brown treesnakes. Microbial cultures taken from mouse carrion indicate that Enterobacter agglomerans is the predominant bacterium, and field tests suggest that this organism may be important to odor production that attracts brown treesnakes. This information may prove useful in the development of microbial-based biological reactors that could be formulated to produce a continuous stream of odor of sufficient complexity so as to be attractive to foraging snakes.