“Did you see that squirrel?” Said the young lady from the back seat of my van. She was referring to the mongoose that just darted across the road as we exited The Fairmont Orchid Hotel. “Oh… that was a mongoose.”, I replied with a smile. With a look of doubt, “Are you sure?” she asked. Lol.
A few days prior, I was early for a pickup at the Sheraton Kona, so I pulled into the Keauhou bay lookout on Kamehameha III Road. There was a group of tourist at the wall taking photos. Just beyond the stone wall, there was a mongoose that emerged from the shrubs. The older gentleman said, “what is that creature, in the bushes?” I answered, “It’s a mongoose”. This piqued the younger ones’ interest enough that they looked away from their smartphones. “A mongoose?” The older man asked. “Don’t they eat snakes? I thought Hawaii didn’t have any snakes.” “You are correct. There are no snakes for the mongoose to eat. They’re opportunistic feeders- Eating anything from scraps at picnic areas, to insects and crabs. What’s been most troublesome has been their role in the extinction and endangerment of some of Hawaii’s tropical birds by eating their eggs and chicks. “ The group seemed to be surprised by this information. So, I thought it would be helpful to pass along some info to one of Hawaii’s most notorious invasive species (humans notwithstanding ).
The mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) found in Hawai’i are from South and Southeast Asia. These rascals were introduced to Hawai’i Island in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields on Maui, Moloka’i, and O’ahu. This has proven to be one (of many) ecological faux pas. The mongoose is diurnal while the rat is nocturnal. Which means they miss each other, for the most part. As a child, I thought Rikki Tikki Tavi was cool, but he was in India, not Hawaii.