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Mongoose or Mongeese?

As the Beast from the East (or Hysteria from Siberia) has us wrapped in an icy chill I decided to look back at some photo's from Barbados to warm me up.

Almost the first wildlife I spotted in Barbados was a mongoose. They were all around the hotel grounds and even appeared by your side while chilling by the pool. They do make you jump a little as your first thought when you catch sight of one is "rat".

They are not endemic to Barbados but were introduced as part of a plan to combat rats which were seen as a potential threat to the sugar cane crop. However as with a lot of non-native species introductions things didn't go quite to plan. Mongoose are active during the day while the rats are more active at night so rarely did the two meet so there was little rat eradication!

One unfortunate consequence of their introduction though was they managed to wipe out every snake species on the island, who would also have dieted on rats. Sometimes its best to leave things alone and let Nature sort things out!

As to the conundrum of the plural of mongoose, if you're not sure you could take advice from the A-Z of Barbados Heritage who offer this wisdom, “If in doubt to the plural of mongoose, one would not go wrong in following the lead of an apocryphal Barbadian planter of the nineteenth century. Writing to India he requested ‘one mongoose and eleven others’!

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