Gangs of mice are attacking adult albatrosses and eating their chicks alive on a remote island in the South Atlantic, shocking footage has revealed.
The RSPB has filmed the shocking attacks on Gough Island for the first time, and have deemed the new behaviour an ‘environmental catastrophe.’
Chris Jones, Senior Gough Field Assistant, said: “We have known for more than a decade that the mice on Gough Island attack and kill seabird chicks.
“While this is already of great concern, attacks on adults, which can produce dozens of chicks in their lifetime, could be devastating for the populations’ chances of survival.
“It’s a terrible development, and these gentle giants could now be lost even more rapidly than we first predicted.”
To document the attacks, the RSPB placed camera alongside albatross nests.
When they reviewed the footage, they were shocked to discover that groups of up to nine mice attack the adult birds, before eating their chicks alive.
Mice were first introduced to Gough Island in the 19th century, after sailors accidentally brought them onto the remote island.
Now, the mice have learned to attack as many of 19 different species of birds, even targeting chicks up to 300 times their own weight.
Gough Island currently hosts 99% of the world’s Tristan albatross and Atlantic peters populations.
Sadly, the two species are now Critically Endangered, with just 2,000 Tristan albatross pairs remaining.
What’s more, albatrosses mate for life and produce just one egg every other year, meaning the mice attacks could be catastrophic for the species.
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