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Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue
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Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  183 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Rat Island rises from the icy gray waters of the Bering Sea, a mass of volcanic rock covered with tundra, midway between Alaska and Siberia. Once a remote sanctuary for enormous flocks of seabirds, the island gained a new name when shipwrecked rats colonized, savaging the nesting birds by the thousands. Now, on this and hundreds of other remote islands around the world, a ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 24th 2011)
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Jan 07, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it
I had a lot of trouble getting through certain sections of this book. I admit, I am sensitive. In this book, there were a lot of animals getting killed, getting poisoned, tortured, and eaten alive.

It is what you would expect about a book about endangered and extinct animals, but it was still hard to read at times. I was thinking about not finishing the book when a friend of mine suggested that I shouldn't read the book if I wasn't getting anything out of it. I concluded that I should finish the
Sep 22, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
This could have been dry, and it could have been pedantic, and it could have been a tremendous bore, a look at how human-ferried predators--especially fearsomely adaptable rats--laid waste to island avifauna and the grim solutions that were finally agreed upon. Imagine trying to make the mass eating of flightless birds and other creatures by rats, and the subsequent campaign to poison rats en masse anything less than grim.... then try developing a deep, almost empathic compassion for the rat, ma ...more
Aug 12, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
The eradication of predators in order to save the native species. I was hoping for a National Geo program instead of a book. After reading it, I realized that will never happen due to the sensitive topic of "killing animals", like 160,000 goats in Galapagos to save the giant tortoise. So this book is as good as it can get to know the history and how the environmentalist did it. A very good read.
Paul Heikkila
Jun 13, 2013 Paul Heikkila rated it it was amazing
Conservationists work to restore bird populations to islands (off New Zealand, in the Bering Sea, off the coasts of California and Mexico) by the extermination of introduced predators (rats, feral cats, goats, pigs, rabbits, weasels....). Can Manhattan be next? Bibliography. Wonderful science writing. Maybe not for the squeamish. Don't let Kitty see you reading this.
Bruce Rideout
Jun 23, 2013 Bruce Rideout rated it it was amazing
The author does a masterful job of turning what could be a dry and depressing conservation issue into a riveting and hopeful story. Very interesting and informative; not dry science and not fluff story-telling.
Aug 31, 2011 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
As heard on the NPR Books podcast.
Aug 02, 2011 Dan rated it really liked it
Very interesting story of human destruction and reconstruction and the philosophical viewpoint behind out mistakes and our choices.
Oct 21, 2016 Reid rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I was suprised by how much I enjoyed this book. A century-long account of island restoration and predator exterminantion didn't sound like the most riviteing topic, but Stolzenburg turns it into a totally engrossing story. It's full of unlikely and sympathetic heroes, like Richard Henry of New Zelanad and master cat-trapper Bill Wood. The story also has as cunning antagonists (invasive rats and feral cats, mostly) that Stolzenburg really builds up into nigh-unstoppable foes. I found it impossibl ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Marty rated it liked it
We've all heard about the direct impact that man has had on numerous ecologies, how humans have helped spur the latest great extinction event*. But what is rather less well-known is the impact we've had through the introduction (accidental or deliberate but poorly considered) of invasive species - cats, weasels, arctic foxes and most especially RATS.

Scientists estimate that at least 103 species of animals - mostly birds - have gone extinct due primarily to predation by introduced rats for which
Sep 18, 2016 Jane rated it it was amazing

Wow! Danger lurks everywhere, even on the most remote islands in the world. You can find out more about it by reading this engrossing book, the subtitle of which is "Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue". I knew rats were pests and a menace in major cities around the world, but I had no idea of their effect on wildlife populations in remote island areas, especially on birds! Other pests doomed for eradication were feral cats, goats, wild pigs, and even tiny mice who pro
Just A. Bean
Oct 28, 2014 Just A. Bean rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Informative and easy to read pop history of conservation by killing all the things. The author has a lively style full of character studies and military metaphors, and entirely adverse to end notes. The book started with extensive and graphic descriptions of the losses caused to island biodiversity by the introduction of new mammals (mostly rats, but also ferrets, cats, goats, pigs, etc, and also humans themselves). Pretty grim stuff, but the author needed it to justify the mass slaughter that f ...more
Feb 15, 2012 Nola rated it really liked it
Riveting accounts of invasive species on selected islands and what has been done to eradicate them. This is not just a book about Rat Island, as I had supposed, but includes background on invasive mammals and the history of attempts at their eradication. The ones in this book have been mostly in New Zealand, but also in other places such as Baja California and the Channel Islands. Rat Island is a lead-in to Kiska, which seems to be the ultimate goal. The writing is very suspenseful and what it c ...more
Christopher Greffin
Mar 21, 2015 Christopher Greffin rated it it was amazing
Rat Island by William Stolzenburg looks at a type of ecological problem we don’t often hear about, but which has caused the extinction of countless strange and beautiful species of animal: invasive species that thrive by killing isolated island ecosystems. It makes one realize how truly fragile these places are, and how special they are as well.

The breadth of what is covered, from the history of these places, to how the invaders reek havoc, to what has and continues to be done, painstakingly, t
Oct 01, 2012 Melody rated it liked it
Shelves: nature-nonfic
So much of this book is chilling and horrifying and graphic- be warned that if you have a hard time reading about teeming waves of rodents leaving carnage in their wake, you may want to be careful with this one. A tale worth reading- it's about hubris and inattention and making things worse under the guise of making them better. It's also, gladly, about learning from mistakes sometimes. And doing better over time. Well worth reading if you are the conservation-minded sort.
A. J.
Jun 30, 2013 A. J. rated it really liked it
This is a book you have to give time. It is extremely depressing initially. The damage done by humans directly and indirectly is painful to read about. We are the worst invasive species of all. The ways a handful of folks have attempted to rectify a small percentage of our destruction is encouraging ( both equally uplifting and simultaneously sad (spraying tons of poisons over large areas...)). Our species needs to slow down before we exterminate many more.
Jun 30, 2015 Grace rated it really liked it
Very understandable and easy to read. Loved the use of stories. Very well-written and enjoyable, a quick read. Really helps normal people understand a complex and often controversial environmental issue. Doesn't overwhelm with quotes, science, and statistics and gets to the point quickly and in a way so that a normal person can comprehend. Overall: very enjoyable, easy to read, understandable,well-written, and I learned a great deal.
Jun 04, 2012 Wanda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Conservationists, Birders
A well written book on the difficulties of eliminating introduced species from island habitats. Introduced animals and plants cause so many problems--the author doesn't shy away from those, describes the process even-handedly and examines both sides of the issue. Yes it is expensive and yes, the introduced animals do get killed. But what is a rare bird worth? To me, it is worth a lot and I appreciate the hard work of those who have cleared islands of rats, cats, goats, etc.
Kathleen McRae
Feb 03, 2012 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it
Extremely interesting book about islaNDS around the world that are sanctuaries for bird colonies and what happens when a predator species is accidentally or not, introduced and the controversial methods that conservationists use to restore a habitat.the islands he discussed ranged from New Zealand to the Aleutians to Islands off the California and Baja coasts.
Aug 31, 2013 Melanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Conservation is (as the saying goes) all about killing things. And this is the book all about killing rats on islands - from the very beginnings (here is New Zealand), to the triumphs, the controversies and the times it'd didn't quite go right. Still, for a book on biodiversity (island biodiversity at that!) this book left me hopeful.
Jane Walker
Nov 01, 2014 Jane Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-non-fic
Very interesting; the story of how islands all over the globe have been invaded by alien species which devastate the native fauna, and how individuals and countries have learned to combat this invasion. Stolzenburg reflects the conflicts between the conservationists, who have to wipe out the rats and other invaders, and those who campaign against this (to my mind, wrongly).
Jan 08, 2015 Renata rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, grownup
Basically everyone else in the class we read this for hated it. But I thought it was fucking fascinating and I have been inundating the people in my life with facts I learned from this. FACT: rats enjoy being tickled. FACT: it is really hard to remove all of the rats from islands. FACT: rats will straight up eat endangered species. OH NO, what to doooo
Jim Corson
Nov 15, 2014 Jim Corson rated it it was amazing
If you are at all involved with invasive species, as I am. This is a sobering book about the often misguided attempts to deal with invasive species and the consequences of not dealing with them. It is worth reading!
Oct 19, 2014 Squatski rated it it was amazing
Good book. Very good book. This is essentially a tale of plunder by rats of the worlds former greatest bird colonies. Incredibly researched and extremely well written. Heart breaking tales of demise of spectacular bird assemblages
Mar 14, 2012 Pamela rated it really liked it
It's not very often a book - for that matter anything or anyone - changes my mind on an issue. But I have to say I've had to rethink my position on poison used for conservation. Go figure.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #205 on March 8, 2013, during an interview with author William Stolzenburg.
Chris Pederson
May 12, 2013 Chris Pederson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The story of conservationist's fight against invasive species. Hopefully we can save all the planet's islands from fox, goats, cats, weasels, pigs, and rats.
Wen Xiang
Wen Xiang rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2012
Laurie rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2013
Alex rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2013
Don Croll
Don Croll rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2015
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