Mongooses – furred lightning
This cute animal looks gentle and harmless, but when it’s hungry, it can be a very dangerous creature! Mongooses are small, quick mammals that are known for killing cobras and other poisonous snakes.
Mongoose is also called ‘furred lightning’ because it can move faster than a snake can strike. This makes the mongoose the most famous snake killer in the world.
There are more than 40 different species, or types, of mongoose. They live in Africa, Asia, and southern Europe.
Mongooses can jump, run backwards, roll over, swim and stand on two hind feet. They can raise their hair up to seem two times bigger.
Most mongooses live in underground holes called burrows. Mongooses eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, eggs, and fruit. Females usually give birth to two to four young. Baby mongooses are blind and hairless when born, but open their eyes after about a week.
The Egyptian mongoose is the largest of all mongooses. It has a body 48-60 cm long, and a 33-54 cm tail. It has 35-40 teeth. Like other mongooses, the Egyptian mongoose can attack and eat poisonous snakes. It was a sacred animal in ancient Egypt. It was often called the ‘Pharaoh’s mouse’ because it ate crocodiles’ eggs in the Nile River.
The banded mongoose is a social species that travels in family groups of about 30 animals.
Yellow mongoose is also called meerkat.
One species, the ring-tailed mongoose is more comfortable in trees than on the ground, although it also swims.
The Madagascar mongooses are endangered species, mostly because of habitat loss and hunting.
Mongooses tend to stand on their hind legs to survey their surroundings. They use their tails, which may be as thick at the base as their body, for balance.
In the late 1800s people brought mongooses to the islands of Hawaii and Jamaica to kill rodents and snakes. But the mongooses also killed many rare and useful animals. The United States has strict rules about bringing mongooses into the country.
Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi was the Indian grey mongoose, which is famous for killing king cobras.