Rat Eradication Effort Pays Dividends For Galapagos Island Tortoises

January 30, 2015

Scientists in 2012 started a program to cover 18 square kilometers of Pinzón Island in the Galapagos Island chain with poisoned rat bait in an effort to eradicate the huge population of invasive rats that live there. The mission was to kill the rats so the Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis nigra) on the island could successfully breed without their offspring becoming the latest meal for the pesky rodent. 

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It appears that the efforts to kill the rats has paid off as James Gibbs of the Galapagos Conservancy has written that they have found 10 newly hatched saddleback tortoises on the island in November 2014. And in addition to finding hatchling tortoises, Gibbs and his colleagues have failed to find a single live rat on the island. 

“As a biologist I have had a time comprehending that every rat was killed,” Gibbs told the Guardian. “But they seem to have done it.” Gibbs wrote about preparing for the giant tortoise population survey on his Galapagos Conservancy blog last month. 

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