My African Mongoose

February 13 – One day while I was hiking with my German shepherd dog, he suddenly paid attention to a burrow along the way, from which issued angry animal sounds. Peering into the burrow, I saw a mongoose sitting just a few inches in, loudly scolding the dog for intruding. Having long wanted a mongoose as a pet, I pushed the dog aside and decided to take a chance and put my hand in and try to grab the mongoose without getting bitten. Somehow I managed to do that and was able to push it into my coat pocket and keep it confined there until I got home and was able to take it out in my room.

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[ Goosu ]

The taming process only lasted for a couple of days before I was able to handle my new pet without getting damaged. Fortunately it was a young one, for an adult would have been hard to tame and would doubtless have bitten me in the capture process. This was a diurnal variety, about the size of a squirrel. I fed my mongoose on insects and mice and lizards and dog food.

Only once after being tamed did it try to bite. It had soon learned that my bed was a great place to spend the night sleeping, and would crawl in with me and would sleep curled up on the back of my legs as I slept face downwards. One night it retired early. Later I too was ready for sleep, and pulled back the bedding to get in. My bare foot was met by an angry show of teeth as it was attacked by the mongoose. Mr. Mongoose had taken his supper to bed with him, and supper consisted of half a mouse, which he was protecting. Not a pleasant thing to find in one’s bed. This required a change of sheets, of course, but it never happened again.

My mongoose liked the same biscuits that our dog did, but not to eat. These dog biscuits required a special technique, as they were too hard to chew. Mongoose handling of hard objects was to place the object between the hind paws and then throw it violently back with the front paws against something hard. That was how eggs were handled, for instance. Dog biscuits did not break easily, however, and would usually rebound strongly with a good thump to the rear. Goosu, as I called him, would leap with fright at being attacked so unexpectedly from behind. Dog biscuits were usually discarded eventually as being “inedible.”

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[ Goosu and the cat ]

Goosu was friendly with our dogs and cat, but they were not quite at ease with him. Sometimes while the dogs were lying on the floor sleeping, Goosu would come along and begin to search their fur for ticks to munch on. The dog would lurch menacingly at the mongoose sometimes, and Goosu would flee at high speed across the room and hide for a while beneath the furniture until it was safe to emerge and try again.

Mongooses are known as destroyers of snakes, so one day I hung a large dead puff adder over my pet’s cage while Goosu was in it. Fearful of being cornered and unable to escape, he began running around inside the cage at high speed, not touching the floor but rather running around the walls until finally I removed the snake and he returned to earth!

When my summer vacation was over and I had to go back to boarding school, it was decided to let Goosu return to the wild. He was really not dependent on humans to feed or care for him, and could flee enemies and catch his own food very easily, so one day we took him out into the wild country far from any civilization, and let him go. He scampered happily away and we hope lived long and safely in the African bush. – DALE

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