Javan mongoose

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Javan mongoose
Small asian mongoose.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Herpestidae
Genus: Herpestes
H. javanicus
Binomial name
Herpestes javanicus

H. j. javanicus
H. j. auropunctatus
H. j. exilis
H. j. orientalis
H. j. pallipes
H. j. palustris
H. j. peninsulae
H. j. perakensis
H. j. rafflesii
H. j. rubifrons
H. j. siamensis
H. j. tjerapai

Small Asian Mongoose area.png
Javan mongoose range

The Javan mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) or small Indian mongoose is a mongoose species native to South and Southeast Asia that has also been introduced to many regions of the world.


Ichneumon javanicus was the scientific name proposed by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in 1818.[2] In the 19th and 20th centuries, several zoological specimens were described, which are now considered synonyms:

Today, the following Javan mongoose subspecies are recognised:[citation needed]

  • H. j. javanicus
  • H. j. auropunctatus
  • H. j. exilis
  • H. j. orientalis
  • H. j. pallipes
  • H. j. palustris (Bengal mongoose)
  • H. j. peninsulae
  • H. j. perakensis
  • H. j. rafflesii
  • H. j. rubrifrons
  • H. j. siamensis
  • H. j. tjerapai


Analysis of mitochondrial DNA revealed that the Southeast Asian group of Javan mongoose subspecies differs genetically from the Javan mongoose occurring farther west. The Salween River in Myanmar is probably a barrier between the two groups.[10]


The body is slender and the head is elongated with a pointed snout. The length of the head and body is 509–671 millimetres (20.0–26.4 in). The ears are short. The feet have five toes and long claws. Sexes differ in size, with males having a wider head and bigger bodies.[11]

The Javan mongoose can be distinguished from the sympatric Indian grey mongoose (H. edwardsii) by its somewhat smaller size. It is larger in the east of its range, where the Indian grey mongoose does not occur, and shows a stronger sexual dimorphism, with the males being larger than the females.[12]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Javan mongoose is native to the north of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and has been introduced to Hawaii, the Bahamas, Cuba, Croatia, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Lesser Antilles, Belize, Honduras, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Suriname, Venezuela, Guyana and Mafia Island.[13] It lives in a broad diversity of habitats.[14]

Introduction to Hawaii[edit]

Javan mongoose in Hawaii

In the 1800s sugar cane plantations shot up on many tropical islands, including Hawaii, Fiji and Jamaica. With sugar cane came rats, attracted to the sweet plant, which caused crop destruction and loss. Attempts were made to introduce the mongoose in Trinidad in 1870 to control the rats, but this failed.[15] A subsequent trial with four males and five females from Calcutta, however, established the species in Jamaica in 1872. A paper published by W. B. Espeut that praised the results intrigued Hawaiian plantation owners, who, in 1883, brought 72 mongooses from Jamaica to the Hamakua Coast on the Big Island. These were raised and their offspring were shipped to plantations on other islands.[16]

Accounts from the sugar industry in the early 20th century state that the introduced mongooses were effective at reducing the number of rats, mice, and insects.[17] However, the mongooses have been deleterious to native birds, which evolved in the absence of mammalian predators, as well as preying on the eggs of endangered sea turtles.[18]

Only the islands of Lana'i and Kaua'i are thought to be free of mongooses. There are two conflicting stories of why Kaua'i was spared. The first is that the residents of Kaua'i were opposed to having the animals on the island, and when the ship carrying the offspring reached Kaua'i, the animals were thrown overboard and drowned. A second story tells that on arriving on Kaua'i one of the mongooses bit a dockworker, who, in a fit of anger, threw the caged animals into the harbor to drown.[19]

Introduction to Caribbean[edit]

Starting in 1870, the Javan mongoose was introduced to Jamaica, Cuba, Hispaniola, and St. Croix, to prey upon black rats (Rattus rattus) that were ravaging the sugarcane industry. Another reason for introducing the mongoose was to reduce snakes in the cane fields. While successful in reducing sugarcane damage from rats,[20][21] the introduction had a negative impact on reptiles and other animals. The green iguana (Iguana iguana, also believed to be an introduced species) has been greatly reduced in number, and the ground lizard Ameiva polops was eliminated from the island of St. Croix before 1962 (but not from Protestant Cay, Green Cay, Ruth Cay, and Buck Island). Ground-nesting birds may also have been affected, as well as rock iguanas and mammals native to the region, such as hutias and solenodons.[20]

Introduction to Okinawa[edit]

The mongoose was introduced onto Okinawa Island in 1910 and Amami Ōshima Island in 1979 in an attempt to control the population of the venomous snake Protobothrops flavoviridis, an endemic species, and other pests, but they have since become pests themselves.[22][23][24]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The Javan mongoose uses about 12 different vocalizations.[25] It is mostly solitary; males sometimes form social groups and share burrows. Females are pregnant for up to 49 days and give birth to a litter of 2–5 young. Males can potentially become sexually mature at the age of 4 months.[citation needed]

Javan mongooses eat mostly insects but are opportunistic feeders and will eat crabs, frogs, spiders, scorpions, snakes, small mammals, birds and eggs.[citation needed]

Mongooses can carry leptospirosis,[26] and are a major rabies vector in Puerto Rico (although actual incidence of transmission to humans is low).[27] On Okinawa, the Javan mongoose may carry antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli.[28]

In studies where traps were used in an attempt to remove the mongoose, it was found that the trap success was nearly zero during rain.[29]


The introduced populations show genetic diversification due to drift and population isolation.[30] Populations on islands throughout the world have increased in size and sexual dimorphism, resembling populations in the east of their range where they have no ecological competitors.[12]

Invasive species[edit]

Mongoose introduction was very successful in rat control,[16][17][20][21] but the mongoose also hunts reptiles,[20] birds and bird eggs, threatening many local island species.

It has also been extremely successful regarding its second purpose in getting rid of snakes; on many of the Caribbean islands where it was released the native snakes have been extirpated and now only exist on offshore islands, at least one species from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands may now be extinct.[31]

In 2016, the European Commission put the mongoose on the list of invasive alien species in the EU.[32]


  1. ^ Chutipong, W.; Duckworth, J. W.; Timmins, R.; Willcox, D. H. A. & Ario, A. (2016). "Herpestes javanicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T70203940A45207619.
  2. ^ Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, É. (1818). "De l'Ichneumon. Ichneumon pharaon". In Jomard, E. F. (ed.). Description de l'Égypte, ou, Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'éxpédition de l'armée française. Tome II. Paris: l'Imprimerie Royale. pp. 137–144.
  3. ^ Hodgson, B. H. (1836). "Synoptical description of sundry new animals, enumerated in the Catalogue of Nipalese Mammals". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 5 (52): 231–238.
  4. ^ Gervais, P. (1841). "Observations géologiques et anatomiques sur diverses espèces de Mammifères nouveaux ou peu connus". Extraits des procès-verbaux des séances. 6: 101–103.
  5. ^ Blyth, E. (1845). "Additions and corrections to Rough notes on the Zoology of Candahar and the neighbouring districts by Thomas Hutton". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 15 (170): 169–170.
  6. ^ Allen, J. A. (1909). "Further notes on mammals from the Island of Hainan, China" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 26 (17): 239–242.
  7. ^ Schwarz, E. (1910). "Two new Oriental Viverridae". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; Zoology, Botany, and Geology. 8. 6 (32): 230–232.
  8. ^ Kloss, C. B. (1917). "On a new Mongoose from Siam". The Journal of the Natural History Society of Siam. 2 (3): 215–217.
  9. ^ Ghose, R. K. (1965). "A new species of mongoose (Mammalia: Carnivora: Viverridae) from West Bengal, India". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of Calcutta. 18 (2): 173–178.
  10. ^ Patou, M. L.; Mclenachan, P. A.; Morley, C. G.; Couloux, A.; Jennings, A. P. & Veron, G. (2009). "Molecular phylogeny of the Herpestidae (Mammalia, Carnivora) with a special emphasis on the Asian Herpestes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 53 (1): 69–80.
  11. ^ Nellis, D. W. (1989). "Herpestes auropunctatus. Mammalian species". Mammalian Species. 342 (342): 1–6. doi:10.2307/3504091. JSTOR 3504091.
  12. ^ a b Simberloff, D.; Dayan, T.; Jones, C.; Ogura, G. (2000). "Character displacement and release in the small Indian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus" (PDF). Ecology. 81 (8): 2086–2099. doi:10.2307/177098. JSTOR 177098.
  13. ^ Long, J. L. (2003). Introduced Mammals of the World: Their History, Distribution and Influence. Cabi Publishing. ISBN 9780851997483.
  14. ^ Hays, Warren ST, and Sheila Conant. "Biology and impacts of Pacific Island invasive species. 1. A worldwide review of effects of the small Indian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus (Carnivora: Herpestidae)." Pacific Science 61.1 (2007): 3-16.
  15. ^ Hoagland, D. B., G. R. Horst, and C. W. Kilpatrick (1989) Biogeography and population biology of the mongoose in the West Indies. Pages 611–634 in C. A. Woods, editor. Biogeography of the West Indies. Sand Hill Crane Press, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
  16. ^ a b Espeut, W. B. 1882. On the acclimatization of the Indian mongoose in Jamaica. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1882:712–714.
  17. ^ a b Kim, Alice. "Mongooses in Hawaii Newspapers". University of Hawai'i at Manoa Library. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Mongoose". Hawaii Invasive Species Council. 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  19. ^ "Hawaiian Creatures - Small Asian Mongoose". Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d George A. Seaman; John E. Randall (1962). "The Mongoose as a Predator in the Virgin Islands". Journal of Mammalogy. 43 (4): 544–546. doi:10.2307/1376922. JSTOR 1376922.
  21. ^ a b Roy, Sugoto (10 January 2020). "Herpestes auropunctatus (small Indian mongoose)". Invasive Species Compendium. CAB International. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  22. ^ "The Small Asian Mongoose introduced to the Island of Okinawa and Amami-Oshima: The Impact and Control Measure." Science Links Japan. Accessed 15 Feb 2009.
  23. ^ Fisher, Cindy. Marines defend Camp Gonsalves from encroaching mongoose 9 July 2006. Stars and Stripes. Accessed 15 Feb 2009.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Mulligan, B E and D W Nellis (1973) Sounds of the Mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 54(1): 320–320
  26. ^ Ishibashi Osamu ; Ahagon Ayako ; Nakamura Masaji ; Morine Nobuya ; Taira Katsuya ; Ogura Go ; Nakachi Manabu ; Kawashima Yoshitsugu ; Nakada Tadashi (2006) Distribution of Leptospira spp. on the Small Asian Mongoose and the Roof Rat Inhabiting the Northern Part of Okinawa Island. Japanese Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 11(1):35–41
  27. ^ "Distribution of major rabies virus variants among mesocarnivores in the United States and Puerto Rico, 2008 to 2015". 2017-07-06.
  28. ^ Nakamura, I.; Obi, T.; Sakemi, Y. (2011). "The Prevalence of Antimicrobial-Resistant Escherichia coli in Two Species of Invasive Alien Mammals in Japan". Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. 73 (8): 1067–1070. doi:10.1292/jvms.10-0525. PMID 21467758.
  29. ^ Nellis, D. W., and C. O. R. Everard. 1983. The biology of the mongoose in the Caribbean. Stud. Fauna Curacao Other Caribb. Isl. 195: 1–162.
  30. ^ Carl-Gustaf Thulin; Daniel Simberloff; Arijana Barun; Gary McCracken; Michel Pascal; M. Anwarul Islam (2006). "Genetic divergence in the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus), a widely distributed invasive species". Molecular Ecology. 15 (13): 3947–3956. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03084.x. PMID 17054495.
  31. ^ Henderson, Robert W.; Crother, Brian I. (January 1989). "Biogeographic patterns of predation in West Indian snakes". In Woods, Charles A. (ed.). Biogeography of the West Indies: Past, present, and future. Gainesville: Sandhill Crane Press. pp. 479–518. doi:10.1016/0169-5347(90)90113-R. ISBN 1 877743 03 8.
  32. ^ "Adopting a list of invasive alien species of Union concern pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council" (PDF).

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Tseng, Z.; Flynn, J. (2015). "Convergence analysis of a finite element skull model of Herpestes javanicus (Carnivora, Mammalia): Implications for robust comparative inferences of biomechanical function". Journal of Theoretical Biology. 365: 112–148. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.10.002. PMID 25445190.