Mongoose: The Caribbean Squirrel

mongooseWhen you visit St. Croix in the Caribbean, you will see a squirrel-like creature just about everywhere. It is easy to mistake a mongoose for a squirrel. It scurries around like a squirrel and is skittish of humans. When you get a closer look, mongoose appear to be a cross of a squirrel and a ferret. They have long bodies, short hair and similar coloring.

Mongooses, mammals native to Africa, were intentionally placed on the island in 1884 to help control the black rat population. During that time, sugar cane was the biggest export from St. Croix and rats love to eat sugar cane. So, it was thought the mongoose would naturally prey on said rats. Whether the introduction of the mongoose had that desired effect is subject for much debate.

There were however, quite a few side effects of introducing the non-native mongoose to St. Croix. Namely, it completely wiped out a species of lizard from the main island, that can now only be found on the small cays off-shore like Green Cay. It also nearly took out a few species of birds, as mongoose like to feed on bird eggs.

If you ask most islanders, they will say they don’t mind having the Caribbean version of the squirrel around. Mainly because snakes are a staple of the mongooses’ diet. Thanks to the mongoose, it is extremely rare to see a snake on St. Croix.

Like all wild animals, never try to feed a mongoose. While they may appear cute, they are actually quite vicious animals with sharp teeth.  They can also carry diseases.

So while mongoose sightings become commonplace the longer you stay on St. Croix, they are a nice reminder of how interesting life in the Caribbean can be.

When you’re ready to have mongoose keeping snakes out of your own backyard, contact Chris and Kerri Hanley to help you find the perfect place. As the top broker on-island year after year, Chris is the authority on Virgin Islands Real Estate. Contact them today and download their free St. Croix Event Guide

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