Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/95

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87
THE MONGOOSE IN JAMAICA.

the universal pest which it is at the present day, and has been for several years, was never anticipated. So long as it kept to the cane growing plantations, and ate the planter's poultry and all young and available animal life, all went well; but with its rapid and prolific powers of reproduction and its vagabond and roaming disposition, in a very short time it was found to be in every part of the island, from the seashore to the tops of the loftiest mountains, the highest peak of which is seventy-three hundred feet above the sea level.

Though it has not exterminated the cane rats, it has lessened their numbers, and saved the sugar planters a vast sum of money. But it has nearly exterminated the ground laying and feeding birds. It

PSM V54 D095 Mongoose.png
The Mongoose (Herpestes griseus) in Jamaica.

devours poultry and eggs of all kinds, on the ground and in trees, including those of the land turtle, so that the latter, once very numerous and highly esteemed as an article of food by the native epicures, is now seldom found. Here may be mentioned an interesting fact, that the mongoose, in no way a tree-climbing animal in its native India, has become such in Jamaica, as its voracious appetite lessened the numbers of ground feeding and laying birds, and compelled it to take to the trees in order to enlarge its food supply.

The mongoose kills young pigs that roam, half wild, over the island; also lambs and kids. It eats fruits of all kinds, fish, wild fowl, snakes, lizards, and crabs; and the once plentiful edible lizards and land crabs are now rarely seen. All young and tender life, both animal and vegetable, is included in its daily menu. When the mongoose has cleared off all the animal life, it turns its attention to the "ground provisions," and here it shows the varieties of its tastes and the strength of its jaws. It will grovel with its paws until yams,