The Encyclopedia Americana (1906)/Mungoos

See also 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ichneumon

Mun'goos, or Mongoose, an ichneumon (Herpestes griseus), common in many parts of India, and closely akin to the Egyptian species ichneumon (q.v.). The mungoos is a burrowing, nocturnal, weasel-like animal tawny yellowish-gray, 16 or 17 inches long, and with a long thick terete tail. It kills numerous birds, sucking their blood and leaving the body uneaten. It also with great adroitness seizes and kills many snakes, the formidable cobra included, usually avoiding the serpent's stroke by its quickness. Its excitement and ferocity in these encounters is almost indescribable. It is, however, commonly domesticated as a mouser in the Orient, and has been colonized in various parts of the world to destroy vermin, usually with sad results; hence the bringing of a living one into the United States has been forbidden by law since 1902. This animal was introduced into Jamaica and some other islands of the West Indies about 1872, and later in Hawaii, in the expectation that it would overcome the plague of rats in the sugar plantations. It did so, but it multiplied excessively, killed off poultry and insect-eating birds, reptiles and mammals, which were useful. Many of these animals changed their habits somewhat to accommodule themselves to the novel enemy, and the mungoos does not now multiply so rapidly as at first, and does less damage. The same experience was had elsewhere, and has warned other countries to avoid a repetition of it. Consult: Blanford, 'Fauna of British India: Mammals' (1889); Morris, 'The Mungoos on Sugar Estates in the West Indies' (1884); and 'The Field' (London, 13 July 1895).