Thursday, July 28, 2005

Giant Mice Attacking Birds

"It is like a tabby cat attacking a hippopotamus." -- Dr Geoff Hilton, senior research biologist with Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Giant carnivorous mice are eating seabird chicks alive. The nightly mass feeding frenzies are taking place on Gough, a British-ruled island in the south Atlantic. So far, the monster mice pose no threat to humans. Well, maybe the super mice are remotely responsible for the recent rash of MWBFs (Missing White Blonde Females) that have captivated the MSM. But there is no direct evidence. And I digress. So, back to the story at hand ... Gough Island is about 1,000 miles southwest of Cape Town (South Africa). The island is pretty much uninhabited -- by humans, that is (hence my earlier comment about posing no threat). But Gough is host to "an astonishing community of seabirds" -- more than 10 million birds reside here. Well, the mouse attacks ("mouse attacks" ... that's such a strange thing to write, isn't it?) are bringing that number down very quickly. Dr Geoff Hilton, a senior research biologist with Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), says that "this catastrophe could make many extinct within decades." 10 million birds gone ... in decades? Gough Island hosts 99 percent of the world's Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel populations, the birds most often attacked. Just 2,000 Tristan albatross pairs remain.
An undated handout photo made available May 2, 2005 shows an albatross. Giant carnivorous mice on the British-ruled island of Gough in the south Atlantic are eating seabird chicks -- including those of the albatross -- alive in mass feeding frenzies, threatening several species' survival, a wildlife charity warned.(AFP/File) Tristan Albatros (AFP/File Photo)
The house mice responsible for the attacks are believed to have made their way to Gough decades ago on sealing and whaling ships. While they have evolved to three times the size their normal size (normal size being that of those seen in mainland Britain), these strange predators are still only a small fraction of the size of the chicks they attack. "The albatross chicks weigh up to 10 kg (22 lb) and ... the mice weigh just 35 grams; it is like a tabby cat attacking a hippopotamus," Hilton said. And it's a disproportionately grusome attack:
The rapacious rodents gnaw into the bodies of the defenceless and flightless chicks, leaving a gaping wound that leads to an agonising death. Scientists say once one mouse attacks the blood seems to draw others to the feast.
Scientists don't seem to know what has caused the mice to grow so large, or how they learned to eat the birds. But I'll bet some enterprising neo-con will find a way to blame this situation on Liberals who support stem cell research or something. That is, if they can pull themselves away from the search for MWBFs or the next Terry Shiavo. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

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