What Was That Zipping Across the Road?

While driving the road to Hana, we saw something gray and about a foot-long dash across the road. The surprised words out of Andy’s mouth were, “What was that? A giant lizard?” We saw more of these quick rascals and could tell that they were furry, so they couldn’t be lizards. We started calling them weasels, but we later learned they are actually mongooses. When you visit the islands of Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island of Hawaii, there’s a good chance you’ll see a mongoose.

I found this YouTube video showing a mongoose scavenging at the beach near Pololu Valley on the Big Island. (Email subscribers: click here to access the video.)

The mongoose is not native to Hawaii. Per Wikipedia, they were brought to the islands to control rats at the sugar cane plantations in the 1800s. I’ve been told that the rat control plan wasn’t such a brilliant idea because rats are nocturnal (active at night) while the mongoose is diurnal (active at day).Unfortunately, the mongoose has caused a great deal of damage to the native Hawaiian birds.

The mongooses that we’ve seen have been extremely fast. We’ve seen them in forest areas as well as developed areas. In fact, on a recent stay in Waikoloa on the Big Island, we noticed mongooses scurrying in the lava rocks on the golf course.

I wouldn’t attempt to approach or pet a mongoose. I’ve heard them fighting in shrubs and they sound pretty vicious.

Have you seen a mongoose in Hawaii? Did it catch you by surprise, too?

  1. At our home on the Big Island there is a large terra cotta saucer (like you’d put under big potted plants) on the ground in the garden, near a bird feeder. It serves as a bird bath and water source for the many birds that live in and around our garden. At least one mongoose visits it regularly, too. On occasion we also have caught the mongoose snitching cat food from the kitty’s bowl on our back lanai. 🙂

  2. I’ve heard that story, too, Dave. Though the version I heard was that the captain of the ship was bitten and he was so mad that he threw all the mongooses overboard.

    That’s a good theory about the Kauai chicken population. Makes a lot of sense.

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