Mongoose, “a general destroyer,” 1883.

[Found under: “EDITORIALS.”]

The Planters’ Monthly has lately been proposing the introduction of a little animals from India called the mongoose, as a destroyer of rats. He is a famous ratter, surpassing the cat or the ferret. He is described as a lively little urchin, about the size of a weasel, as having a snaky body, vicious looking claws, a sharp nose, a villanous eye and looks like “murder incarnate.” In speaking of his action in capturing rats, it is said that he crawls sinuously up to his victim until within easy distance for a rush, and then strikes with unerring aim, snapping the rat just at the base of the brain. The rat has not time even to squeak, so sudden and deadly is the onslaught. Wherever the rat can enter the mongoose can follow. Thus as a ratter this lively little Indian is incomparable, but the trouble is he will not confine his operations to what is deemed his legitimate business. Some writers have endeavored to save his credit as a poultry destroyer, but a naturalist, who has carefully observed his characteristics, says that he is a general destroyer, not only of everything under, but of many creatures over his size. When in a cage that sight of a small living creature made him frantic and whenever he escaped, as he sometimes did, he made a sensation in the poultry house. The mongoose is not content with maurauding forays in the yard, but he seems to pervade the house when domesticated. His manner for getting into objectionable nooks and holes is most perplexing, as for instance the leg of a pair of trousers or a skirt with the owner in them, quite come up to his views, as a desirable place for a roost or forage. The rat is unquestionably a great pest of the cane and rice planter and grain cultivator in all parts of the world. The rat pest was deemed so serious here some fifty years ago that an enlightened and enterprising Commisioner of the Hawaiian Government, sent in quest of Chinese coolies, deemed it a judicious venture in behalf of the agricultural interests of the Islands to procure a species of sanke famed as a destroyer of rats; but the Hawaiian people, whose sacred soil has been kept free from snakes and toads by some patron saint in influence to St. Patrick, conceived a holy terror of the snake, notwithstanding his possible utilities, and passed a decree that Hawaii would have no snake in her plantations. The destruction of rats in the cane-fields was hardly deemed a sufficient compensation to the Hawaiian mind for the probable presence every now and then of his snakeship in the thatch of the Hawaiian hale-pili. And we think that if the mongoose be as well understood as the snake, he will be as objectionable as the tempter of our first parents to the popular mind. This terrible Indian ferret is said to take a fancy to fasten on to lambs and suck away their very life-blood; and who knows if he may not ake a fancy once in a while to a baby in its cradle.

Moral: Better the evils that we wot of than venture on experiments for cure that will land us we know not where.

[Too bad this editorial was not heeded back in the day. Perhaps not babies in cradles, but surely bird eggs in nests…]

(PCA, 3/31/1883, p. 2)

The Planters' Monthly...

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XXVII, Number 40, Page 2. March 31, 1883.

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