Herpestes javanicus is a small, agile creature with a slender body, short legs and a muscular tail. Hailing from Iran, India, Myanmar and the Thai Malay peninsula, the mongoose was introduced to islands including Mauritius, Fiji, the West Indies and Hawaii to control rat infestations on sugar cane plantations. But the mongoose soon found tastier morsels: native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds. Now, both the rat and mongoose continue to degrade these island ecosystems. Fiji’s barred-wing rail and Hispaniola’s racer have both gone extinct because of the mongoose, and the critically endangered petrel of Jamaica may soon follow.
Editor's Note: This entry originally had a photo that was incorrectly identified as a mongoose. We have replaced that image with the one above. Thanks to our readers for catching our error.