GALLERIES > MAMMALS > SMALL ASIAN MONGOOSE [Herpestes javanicus]
Location: Hana Bay, Maui, HawaiiGPS: 20.8N, -156.0W, elev=106' MAP
Date: October 13, 2007
ID : 6287 [3888 x 2592]
The Small Asian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), also known as the Indian Mongoose, Small Indian Mongoose, or the Javan Mongoose, is a species of mongoose found in the wild in South and Southeast Asia. It has also been introduced to various parts of the world.
This species occurs naturally throughout most of southern mainland Asia, from Iraq to China, as well as on the island of Java, at altitudes up to 2200 m. It has also been introduced to dozens of islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, and a few in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean, as well as to mainland Venezuela. It is capable of living among fairly dense human populations.
Mongooses lives in scrublands and dry forest. On Pacific Islands they live in rainforests as well.
These mongooses mostly eat insects but are opportunistic feeders and will eat crabs, frogs, spiders, scorpions, snakes, and birds.
Mongooses are mostly solitary although males will sometimes form social groups and share burrows. Pregnancy duration is up to 49 days. A litter can consist of 2-5 young.
The 1800s were a huge century for sugar cane, and plantations shot up on many tropical islands including Hawai'i and Jamaica. With sugar cane came rats, attracted to the sweet plant, which ended up causing crop destruction and loss. In 1872, W.B. Espeut, in an attempt to control the rising rat populations, brought the Small Asian Mongoose from Calcutta to Jamaica. A paper published by Espeut that praised the results intrigued Hawaiian plantation owners who, in 1883, brought 72 mongooses from Jamaica to the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island. These were raised and their offspring were shipped to plantations on other islands.
Only the islands of Lana'i and Kaua'i are (thought to be) free of mongooses. There are two conflicting stories of why Kaua'i was spared. The first is that the residents of Kaua'i were opposed to having the animals on the island and when the ship carrying the offspring reached Kaua'i, the animals were thrown overboard and drowned. A second story tells that on arriving on Kaua'i one of the mongooses bit a dockworker who, in a fit of anger, threw the caged animals into the harbor to drown.