At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:“Nag, come up and dance with death!
”Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.)
This shall end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasure, Nag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist —
(Run and hide thee, Nag.)
Hah! The hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide thee, Nag!)

 

This is how Rudyard Kipling, author of the famed ‘Jungle Book’ introduces our animal of the month – the Indian Grey Mongoose. Named Rikki-tikki-tavi in the book, his story is of a valiant hero fighting an incredible battle with Nag and Nagaini, the Spectacled Cobras. Curious, brave, slender and quick is how he is described and that holds true to the nature of a real-life Mongoose.

Indian Grey Mongoose

The Indian Grey Mongoose – Photograph: Chaitrika Reddy

 

Consisting of about 34 species, the Mongooses are known to many of us as oversized rodent-like animals which are mostly pests and a nuisance. But on the other hand, they are also considered lucky because they keep your backyard free of snakes as their diet consists of venomous snakes. This is precisely why they were introduced to Hawaii, the West Indies, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica – to control the snake population. It’s a common misconception that the Mongoose is able to withstand a serious bite of a Cobra by running away as soon as it is bitten and eating some sort of a magical herb. In reality, it’s the incredible agility and the evolutionarily adapted thicker skin that keeps the Mongoose from getting bit in the first place.

Indian Grey Mongoose

The Indian Grey Mongoose – Photograph: Chaitrika Reddy

 

Although they are spotted scurrying throughout the day, the Indian Grey Mongooses are especially active during the early morning and evening in search of one of their favourite meals – the reptiles. They create their dens in holes and burrows and occasionally under rocks. So, it is of no surprise that Hampi, the town of boulders is home to hundreds if not thousands of these fascinating creatures. We have the pleasure of having them live right in our Kamalapura Palace – a family of 5-6 living in the tall grass and small boulders, trusting us enough to not cause them any harm.

I mean, if that’s not adorable, I don’t know what is.