First of all, I’d like to clarify that the plural of mongoose is not mongeese.
Just thought I ought to get that out of the way.
Mongooses were introduced to Hawaii late in the nineteenth century, with the intention of having them help control the rat population, which had gotten out of hand what with all the trans-Pacific ship traffic passing through the islands.
There was only one problem: rats are nocturnal, and mongooses are diurnal. The mongooses were happy to do something about the rat problem, they just weren’t awake at the right time to do it.
Which in turn created another problem: the mongooses needed something to eat, and they have a special liking for eggs. So they turned to a diet of our native species, such as our various forest birds. These are — were — magnificently colored little avian species, highly prized in Hawaiian culture for their feathers. Thanks to the mongoose and other non-native predators, most of these beauties — and several other varieties of Hawaiian bird life — are now, alas, endangered or extinct.
Still, in spite of the destruction they have caused, I have a bit of a fondness for the mongoose. I guess it’s because they’re … cute. There are tons of them on the campus of the school where The Coach works; they live in the shrubbery and you often see them making a dash across the road on their way home. Usually it’s just one hurrying to make it across without getting run over by your car, but often you’ll see a mama followed by a couple babies.
It’s hard to see a scene like that and not say, “Aww.” Although the birds whose eggs are getting eaten probably don’t think so.
This is the twelfth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.