Meet the mongoose. There is actually a sound track for these creatures, courtesy of the last hit by Donovan— ‘Riki Tiki Tavi’ (mongoose is gone). You may ask why is this critter smiling. Well because he is the natural predator of things like snakes, and actually Mayor Bloomberg could have done better picking mongeese (yes that’s the plural of mongoose, over possums to get rid of his rodent problem. If you are wondering what the connection of a mongoose to a goose is, it is, …wait for it…… nothing. The British just couldn’t pronounce the original name and so as with the case with word turkey, they made up an English equivalent.
Here is the actual story on this name—
“The word mongoose is derived from the Marathi name mangus (मंगूस) (pronounced as [məŋɡuːs]), perhaps ultimately from Dravidian (cf. Telugu mungeesa (ముంగిస), Kannada mungisi (ಮುಙಿಸಿ). The form of the English name (since 1698) was altered to its -goose ending by folk-etymology. It has no etymological connection with the word goose. The plural form is mongooses, or, rarely, mongeese. It has also been spelled mungoose.” Say what???
If you ask about the most notable feature of a mongoose, it may be more information than you really want to know. You see, like a good ole American skunk, they have a large anal scent glad which has two purposes— marking out one’s territory and alerting nearby female mongeese that ‘I’m in the mood for love’, though just how romantic can it be when an animal shoots odor out his butt, hoping to attract a mate. This would be like Bubba finding a mate at the Kentucky State Fair by winning a farting contest. But, I digress. And lest you think that behavior not the behavior of a higher order of mammal, I am told that mongeese when courting and mating regularly imitate the behavior of humans— they communicate pleasure by giggling. Yes, I said giggling. It’s a good thing God has a sense of humor.
If you really want the inside skinny on mongeese however, here is a little known medical fact—
“Mongooses were used in research into creating artificial skin. Mongooses were given grafts of a polytetrafluoroethylene–based polymer in an attempt to create a semi-permeable skin-like membrane which could be used to treat burn victims.”
And just to prove that not all your relatives from your species have to be butt ugly, the cousin of the mongoose is the meerkat, which regularly wins the cute contest at the San Diego zoo…….
A mongoose is tough to find in a America, unlike in Pakistan and India where they are the regular companions of snake charmers who also make money hosting fights between mongeese and snakes for the purpose of betting. I would rather see the mongoose face off with a nasty goose for the sake of claiming the rights to the name goose.
There are of course many other tales we could tell about the creatures we have been investigating in this series of posts, but now is a good time to cue Donovan once more, and sing along ‘Riki Tiki Tavi’ mongoose is gone’ and maybe check out the original Rudyard Kipling story.