Thursday, November 28, 2013

A pet to man but enemy to snake - the Mongoose!

In my school days, I have heard my elders tell stories about mongoose apart from that popular story, 'Riki-Tikki-Tavi.' One of such stories is here: the mongoose stole daily a hen from the hen house and left out the hen's body after eating its brain! It simply entered into the hen house burrowing down the earth next to the fence!
I have seen only a glimpse of a mongoose before I could recognise its presence there when it disappears behind bushes. It is called as Indian Gray Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii, 'Keerippillai' in Tamil). It is a small mammal weighing about a kilogram, having a long face with small round ears, and a long tail. It is a terrestrial animal active mostly at daytime. Males are larger than the females. It is an agile and skillful hunter. It eats rats, insects, lizards, scorpions, snakes, eggs and small birds. As told in the popular story it can be domesticated as a pet and used for the control of household pests. Snake-charmers use it to exhibit a road show of its fight with snakes. It is said to have resistance to the neurotoxins of Cobra and the Krait, so that it can kill these snakes easily without getting itself harmed! It is also said that it has colour vision unlike other animals that have only black & white vision! And they have also a strong sense of smell and keen eyesight!
It is such a wonder animal that it had also wondered Rudyard Kipling to include it in his 'Jungle Book'!


h e m a n t h said...

Very interesting! I never knew that they weigh only a kilogram and that they have color vision!

h e m a n t h said...

(Source: Wikipedia)
The story follows the experiences of a young mongoose named Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (for his chattering vocalizations) after his adoption into a British family residing in a bungalow in India, both as a pet and as protection against venomous snakes. After becoming acquainted with some of the other creatures inhabiting the garden, Rikki is warned of two cobras Nag and Nagaina, who are angered by the family's presence on the territory which they had previously dominated. Nag enters the house's bathroom before dawn but is attacked by Rikki. The struggle that ensues awakens the human family and Nag is killed by the father.
A grieving Nagaina attempts revenge against Rikki's human family, cornering them as they take breakfast on an outdoor veranda. While Nagaina has been distracted by the wife of a bird named Darzee, Rikki has destroyed the cobra's unhatched brood of eggs except for one. He now carries it to where Nagaina is threatening to bite the child Teddy while his parents watch helplessly. An enraged Nagaina recovers her egg, but pursued by Rikki-Tikki to the underground cobra's nest where an unseen final battle takes place. Rikki emerges triumphant from the hole declaring Nagaina dead. His subsequent role is to protect the family by keeping the garden free from any future intrusion by snakes.

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