A Smart or Dumas Move? Italy Set To Bomb Island of Montecristo With 26 Tons of Rat Poison

This is a bizarre story. We are all familiar with the island of Montecristo from the famous novel by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. If you go to the uninhabited island, however, you are likely to find not the treasure from the book (or Red Beard’s treasure, as has long been rumored to be buried there). What you will find are rats. Lots of rats. One for every square yard of island. Now, the Italian military is planning to literally bomb the island to kill the black rat (Rattus rattus) population — and save the island.

It appears that Italian officials may have gotten the idea from the novel from Jacopo: “Why not just kill them? I’ll do it! I’ll run up to Paris – bam, bam, bam, bam. I’m back before week’s end. We spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan?”

The black rats on the island off the coast of Tuscany and Corsica were introduced from boats and rapidly bred. Roughly 1000 tourists visit the four-square mile island every year.

Now, the military will drop 26 tons of poison pellets on the island. Putting aside the environmental damage that such poison could cause the sea and island from runoff and contamination, my chief question is what happened to tens of thousands of dead rats. The danger of a displacement effect on another species (let alone the smell) is considerable.

Source: Telegraph

29 thoughts on “A Smart or Dumas Move? Italy Set To Bomb Island of Montecristo With 26 Tons of Rat Poison

  1. I lean toward the Dumas move choice. Why not send the military in to shoot them all and get some practice? That would seem to be the less environmentally dangerous. However, if the island is uninhabited, why the big concern?

  2. Rat poison is not really poison in the general understanding of the meaning of the word. It is Warfarin, which we know as Coumadin. It is a commonly used blood thinner taken by millions of people around the world. It is harmless in small doses, but in large doses it thins the blood until internal hemorrhaging occurs. It also biodegrades quickly.

    Food attractive to rats or mice is laced with Warfarin so that it becomes an overdose for a small animal such as rats. The drug is orderless and tasteless, and does not cause physical distress. Therefore, the rodents do not learn to fear and avoid it.

  3. “Roughly 1000 tourists visit the four-square mile island every year.”


    There’s the tourist-trade… Wanna go?

  4. I wonder why 1000 tourists visit a tiny uninhabited rat infested island every year.

    I don’t like the poison, nor the lead from the ammo (they still use lead in ammo, right?) How about catching them and using some humane way of disposing of them.

  5. Ahhhh . . . rat killing. Reminds me of when i was a wee lad. The rat killings took place on my family’s farm. I recall it involved a hose attached to the exhaust pipe of a 56 Ford. The rats (big Norwegian types) would spill out of their dens beneath the faring houses, snot-slinging red-eyed yellow-fanged demons intent on giving what-for and me with nothing but a itty-bitty stick. For years their spirits occupied my bedroom closet, the space beneath my bed, and my dreams.

    I say nuke the damn island.

  6. The problem is the poison means any bird (or other animal) who snacks on the dead rats is poisoned as well. I use an electric devise to kill rodents. They go into the chamber for a food treat and get electrocuted.

    This seems to be the most humane way and the least messy way to kill rats, imho.
    Why dont they spay & neuter a bunch of Jack Russell terriers or cats and let them loose instead?
    Good living for the predators and no possibility of another foreign species taking over. Probably cheaper, too.

  7. in DC they just catch them and dump them in Virginia.

    Maybe Italy could harvest them and sell them to some country which likes to eat rats.

    although we, in Virginia, are typically more fond of pork and beef than rat.

  8. shano sez: “The problem is the poison means any bird (or other animal) who snacks on the dead rats is poisoned as well.”


    By the time a predator consumed a dead rat, the Warfarin would be so diffuse as to not be a threat. Warfarin is the prescription medication Coumadin, which is nothing more than a commonly used as an anticoagulant. Warfarin is the most commonly used rat and mouse poison because the risk to the environment is minimal, unlike arsenic, cyanide or other highly dangerous poisons. Unlike metallic poisons, Warfarin is organic and the original compound on which the medication is based, is found naturally in sweet clover which has spoiled.

  9. in fact send them to North Korea as food aide. Kills 2 birds with one stone. And does some good to help actual starving people under a repressive Marxist/socialist dictatorship.

  10. a couple of thousand spayed or neutered american shorthair cats. gets rid of the rats and you don’t have to worry about the cat population because they can’t breed.

    if the cats take care of the rats to soon i’m not going to suggest they get sent to n.korea.

  11. Why no an economic blockade of the island? Remove all the human foodstuffs from the island and let the rats starve down to a normal population.

    A rat population like this doesn’t exist without a reason, clearly there is far far too much food waste on that island. The rats are just the counterbalance to food waste, the same as most everywhere else urban rats are found.

  12. Marxism and socialism are different things. North Korea is a Communist state, ergo, a Marxist state. If you’re interested in feeding the North Koreans, I say we send people who make false equivalences to Pyongyang, Bron.

    And what pete said. A couple of thousand cats would clear the rat problem right up.

  13. raff,

    As funny as it is, it’s still a perfectly sensible solution to the problem that is the very definition of ecologically friendly.

  14. Cats are a bad idea, the island is an animal preserve and that primarily benefits birds; it is an important rest stop for migratory birds. Cats to control the rats is just unwise in the extreme.

    Rats eat anything they can get down their throat- grain, plants, worms, birds, fish, nuts, insects etc. The island has been a sanctuary for decades, people aren’t allowed there, the rat population isn’t sustained by people’s waste or McDonald’s dumpsters.

    Run-off damaging some of the most pristine coral beds in the Mediterranean should be a worry as well as birds and native fauna eating the pellets. Wild goats, a stable population of 4 to 5 hundred, is the islands mega-fauna and has been for a couple of hundred years.

  15. LK,

    Although I wasn’t aware the island was a bird sanctuary I have to ask, “Why so?” Cats are explosion hunters. They are going to go for prey that requires the least expenditure of energy. I’m thinking a rat is much easier to catch than a bird.

  16. Until they run out of rats or find easier prey. Feral cats are a big problem in Australia and neighboring islands, they came ashore on ships and were later imported to control mice/rats and rabbits. Bad Idea, they have hunted some ground-dwelling native birds to extinction.

    There is clear evidence that feral cats have had
    a heavy impact on island fauna. On Macquarie
    Island, for example, feral cats are implicated in the
    sharp decline of a subspecies of the red-fronted
    parakeet in the 1880s and its extinction by 1891.
    On the mainland, they are identified as a threat to
    35 species of birds, 36 mammals, 7 reptiles and
    3 amphibians. Cats have probably contributed
    to the extinction of many small to medium-sized
    mammals and ground-nesting birds in the arid
    zone, and seriously affected bilby, mala and
    numbat populations. In some instances, feral cats
    have directly threatened the success of recovery
    programs for endangered species.
    Feral cats can carry infectious diseases such as
    toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis, which can be
    transmitted to native animals, domestic livestock
    and humans. If rabies were to be accidentally
    introduced into Australia, there is a high risk that
    feral cats would act as carriers of the disease.”


  17. LK,

    We aren’t talking about Australia or New Zealand though. Montecristo is off the coast of Italy, so I’m going to discount disease vectors since humans already visit from the mainland and cats are everywhere in Europe. I can see the concern if it is a sanctuary and there are ground dwelling species there, but being a sterile population of cats breeding wouldn’t be an issue and once the rat population is eliminated, why not just trap the remaining cats and relocate them? I guess another important question to ask though is does Wafarin (or whatever poison they choose) effect the birds too? I’m guessing the reason a blood thinner is effective on rats is due to smaller body mass making the median lethal dosage smaller. The same logic would apply to birds unless there is something about their physiology that metabolizes it differently.

  18. No, we’re not talking about Australia but we are talking about cats and cats have certain behaviours that are destructive to any ecosystem they are allowed access to. There was a study some years ago about the damage to wildlife in a British city done by cats. I don’t think the study turned up a lot of damage to healthy prey populations across the entire of Britain but it did turn up a long list of animals a cat would consider prey. Cats will kill anything they can. If they were released into a closed system, like a small island, their damage could be great.

    The island is a granite mountain that has few roads and is a perfect sanctuary because it’s hard to explore. Trapping cats that don’t want to be trapped is not (I would venture) an easy job. I’m sure that makes the rat problem so difficult to deal with, you can’t get to them easily.

    LOL, Actually, If I thought a lot of cats released to kill rats would run out of food after killing all the rats and suffer from a lack of prey I would be castigating you for proposed cat cruelty😉

    Your question about the nature of the poison is a good one. A problem I see is that ‘you can’t eat just one’. If they are considered food by the birds they will eat more than one if the bait is available and the birds are anything like the wild birds devastating my birdseed dispensers. They just eat until they’re full or the seeds are gone. I think poison bombing has been done elsewhere with good effect, at least worked well for the effect desired.

  19. Well, I think that we must get rid of these rat’s somehow, but I don’t think that poison pellet bombing them is a good idea. For my writing class this is what we are writing about. I think that we should get rid of the rats, but how much is it going to cost? And you do realize that the people will probably pay for this! And then there adds in the insurance, materials, clean-up, and the ammount of pellets needed!
    Also, wouldn’t it be eaiser to just set traps and have someone come in each week to unload them. Because if we have pellets, some might fall into the water and poison the fish and pollute the water. Or other animals might eat them, such as birds, or pets that the tourists bring. And the tourists might accednetly bring some of the pellets back, and poison the people on the mainland. It’s not safe to use pellets!
    And what about the island? How would this effect the island long term? How would it effect the invironment?
    Many things to think about BEFORE we take action.

    By: A person

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