The plural is mongooses, not mongeese.
Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” features one of the most celebrated mongooses in history, Rikki-tikki-tavi. He wrote that mongooses have a “quickness of eye and quickness of foot” that helps them attack and prevail over venomous cobras. Mongooses are non-discriminatory predators. So Kipling paints an accurately imaginative portrait of the mongoose by sharing that Rikki-tikki-tavi “preferred to be found with his teeth locked.”
Egyptian mongooses have long, sleek bodies and short legs. Common fur colors include brown or gray. Their fur is “grizzled” in appearance, according to National Geographic. In addition, mongooses have between 35 or 45 teeth, and the size of their bodies varies depending on species. Dwarf mongooses can grow as long as two feet, while other species are only seven inches long. The lengths of their tails vary too, and typically range from six to 20 inches.
Mongooses are carnivores and eat rats, mice and birds. They will even eat frogs. Some members of the mongoose species have tapered snouts that facilitate eating snails, beetles and worms. Others eat fish and dine on fruit. Eggs are an Egyptian mongoose’s favorite delicacy.
The mongoose is aggressive to other mongooses interested in their prey. Verna Case, Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology at Davidson College, says the dwarf mongoose will release a “feeding growl” after catching its prey. This behavior escalates should any other mongoose approach. If a mongoose gets excited, it will arch its back, bristle its hair and give an appearance of being two times larger than it actually is.
Mongooses may lounge in treetops, burrows, logs and rock crevices. However, their preferred habitats can vary. For example, Egyptian mongooses prefer regions near water and trees—and dwarf mongooses are at home in semi-arid African brush. Mongooses are generally terrestrial (land-based) mammals. However, some of them are semi-aquatic.
The belief that mongooses would curb the rodent population caused their introduction to the sugarcane fields of Hawaii and the West Indies during the 1800s. Unfortunately, the mongoose’s carnivorous nature now threatens native species. In contrast, National Geographic reports that the mongooses themselves undergo a threat in their natural environments due to “habitat loss.”