You ever find yourself out exploring the island and notice a small weasel-like animal scurrying about through some bushes or behind a tree? It’s not a weasel. That, right there, is a mongoose. It comes from the cat family of feliforma, the same family the leopard and hyena come from.
Mongooses are natives to Africa, Asia, and some parts of Europe. But they will never be found in the United States. Except in Hawaii.
The mongoose was brought over to Hawaii in 1883. It was at that time the Hawaiian farmers were trying to develop their sugar cane plantations. But they were having a difficult time. The fields were being overrun with rats.
The farmers heard stories from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and other West Indie islands, who used mongooses to combat their huge rat population. A mongoose is known to eat insects, crabs, lizards, birds, and other rodents.
So the mongoose was brought to Hawaii and released into the fields to kill off all the rats. But one small problem. Rats are nocturnal animals, meaning they’re only awake at night. Mongooses are only awake during the day. So the two never came in contact with each other.
Instead, the mongoose began destroying some of Hawaii’s most native species and fauna. Many of the bird populations and turtle eggs declined as they would feed on unprotected nests. It continued to get worse when the mongoose started reproducing and needing food for their young ones. Special fencing was put up just to keep them out of nature sanctuaries and reserves.
Mongooses still remain on the islands. And efforts are still being made to control their population. If you ever encounter one, don’t be afraid. They usually shy away from humans. But please, try not to corner one. If they feel they’re in danger, they’ll become aggressive and will leave a nasty bite.
Image by: hiveminer.com