Last month I read disturbing reports of murdered chickens on various sites. The owners all wondered what terrible monster could cause such a massacre?
A few examples: A hen with young chicks had been given a safe place in a well-sealed concrete shed by her owner. She had been attacked in broad daylight and all that was left were some feathers and traces of blood from the hen and her chicks. Could there have been an animal that had slipped through a hole in the tiled roof and climbed back up again?
In a coop in the middle of the day, 10 chickens had been killed in an unguarded moment. This owner even had guard dogs on the property, but they hadn’t barked. Could it be, this owner wondered, that it had been the dogs themselves?
There were more horror stories like that and all owners got the same reply: That must have been an Egyptian mongoose! Without a doubt!
A what?! I had never heard of it. When I looked it up, my first reaction was very cheerful: Finally! That is the animal we have seen many times before, but didn’t know what it was!
Last fall we saw him or her crossing a dry sandy path. It looked a bit like a large otter or a beaver, with dry fur and a tasseled tail. Or maybe a large muskrat with a long tail and longer hair… We searched for a long time, but we couldn’t find what we had seen. It remained a mystery.
The Egyptian mongoose
The beast is also known as ichneumon or ichneumon-rat. And it is an excellent, fast hunter. He eats everything he can get his hands on, snakes, reptiles, eggs, birds, rabbits, crabs, insects and small rodents. It lives mainly solitary and hunts during the day. The mongoose is related to the meerkat. That seems a very cute little animal.
But when I saw a mongoose in our valley last week, I was a lot less excited. They seem to really like chickens, so I hope they never visit us. And when that happens, I hope our rooster will scare them!
Mongoose in Portuguese