Brown treesnakes: A potential invasive species for the united states

Samantha S. Kahl, Scott E. Henke, Marc A. Hall, David K. Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) are mildly venomous, exotic snakes that have the potential to become an invasive species in North America, Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The snake is native to northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea, and other islands of northern and western Melanesia. The snakes were fi rst found outside their native range on Guam in 1953. The exact date they reached the island is uncertain, but they are believed to have arrived on military cargo transport vessels some time during or just after World War II. During the years that followed, the population of brown treesnakes increased considerably on Guam. The snakes have extirpated or endangered many native animal populations, attacked pets and poultry, bitten humans, and caused power outages resulting in millions of dollars in damage. This snake species has been found on ships and aircraft, which have transported it to other islands in the Indo-Pacifi c, as well as Hawaii and the continental United States (i.e., Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska) in military cargo. Because the U.S. military is expanding its bases on Guam, resulting in increased shipments and military movements from Guam to the United States, there is an increasing risk for brown treesnake invasion into the United States, as well as other islands in the Pacifi c. Two-thirds of the literature concerning brown treesnakes is in gray area publication outlets that can be diffi cult to ascertain. A literature review is offered to provide a background of past research on brown treesnakes. This review of literature elaborates on the native range, morphology, behavior, biology, ecology, venom, diet, reproduction, habitat, mortality, and control of the brown treesnakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-203
Number of pages23
JournalHuman-Wildlife Interactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


  • Biology
  • Boiga irregularis
  • Brown treesnake
  • Controldiet
  • Ecology
  • Guam
  • Human-wildlife confl icts
  • Invasive species
  • Reproduction


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