Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/94

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86
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

posited, should be retained, devoted to worship, with special masses to be said at stated times, and the splendid collections of the chateau should together be called the Condé Museum. In 1889 the Government authorized the duke to return to France. He refused to accept the permission as a matter of favor, but only as one of right. He returned, however, and took his seat in the academy in May of that year.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from articles in La Nature.

 
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THE MONGOOSE IN JAMAICA.
By C. W. WILLIS,
MEMBER OF THE INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA.

ABOUT fifteen or twenty years ago the mongoose (Herpestes griseus) was imported from India by the colonial government and introduced into the island of Jamaica, in the West Indies, for the ostensible purpose of destroying the large, gray, white-bellied rat which played havoc with the growing cane on the sugar plantations.

The mongoose belongs to the Viverridæ, or civet-cat family, which is closely allied to the Felidæ, one of the most widely diversified among the carnivora. But the mongoose differs materially from the civet cats, for it belongs properly to the subfamily Herpestiæ, or ichneumons, having toes slender and straight, and separate from one another; the scent glands, so highly developed in the civet cat, being either small or entirely absent. Most of the ichneumons are natives of Africa, but several are Indian, and one form (H. ichneumon) extends to southern Spain.

H. griseus is the true mongoose of India, and is the animal imported into Jamaica. In its native habitat it devours snakes, rats, lizards, and other creatures not in favor with humanity. Its color is gray, darker on the head and legs; its feet are blackish, and the end of the tail is tipped with black. Beneath the longer gray-or whiteringed hairs there is a fine, short, reddish under fur. The body of the full-grown animal is about twenty-one inches in length, and the tail eighteen inches.

Like Pharaoh's rat in Egypt, to which it is allied, the mongoose is highly valued in India, and is often kept tame about the houses for the services that it renders in destroying snakes and other plagues. It is especially famous for its prowess in destroying the deadly cobra, a feat performed by force of its superior boldness and activity.

That the little animal has fairly achieved the object for which it was imported can not be gainsaid, but that it would ever become