Can you kill a rat with a mongoose? It sounds like a perfect, poison-free solution. But will it really work?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6
Birding in Paradise
The bush beside me erupted with loud snarls and growls. I grabbed Pedro’s arm. “What’s that?”
“Cats fighting?” he replied with a shrug.
“No,” I pointed as a long creature with short legs, and small rounded ears took off across the lawn of the park with another nipping at its heels. “That’s no cat!”
“Mongoose,” he said. “They’re nasty critters.”
“Ah, they’re kind of cute,” I responded. I lifted my camera and focused on the pair as they continued their antics and argument in a nearby pile of dead wood.
“There’s nothing cute about them,” he assured me. “I remember them from when I was a kid in Jamaica—they’re mean.”
I snapped some photos of the interesting creatures when they stopped chasing each other, then continued to look for new-to-me bird species.
Later that evening, I researched the mongoose. Mostly because I didn’t believe Pedro’s assessment of the mongoose. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi seemed likable enough, and mongooses kill cobras in India.
Ways to Kill a Rat
Back in the early 1880s, the rise of sugar plantations in Hawai’i sparked a rise in the rat population. Rats, an invasive species brought in on ships, love gnawing on sweet things like sugar cane. The Hawaiian sugar cane plantation owners heard how Jamaican plantation owners imported mongooses to kill rats. They decided to try the same thing, but they failed to research the efficacy of their solution to the rat problem.
A mongoose will kill a rat, a snake, or any other small creature. But mongooses sleep at night and hunt during the day. Rats keep the opposite schedule—sleep all day and skulk around at night.
While the plan sounded great in theory, it didn’t work. Instead, the mongoose population thrived in a tropical paradise of readily available small birds and eggs. Eggs of the Hawaiian nene, for example.
Now Hawai’i has two invasive species to deal with—rats and mongooses. Both species breed like bunnies. A female mongoose can raise two-three litters of young each year, and each litter has two-five cubs. Introduced species have no natural enemies, so mongooses roam and multiply with impunity.
Invasive Species in Our Lives
We should never try to kill a rat with a mongoose. We’ll probably make the problem worse by introducing an invasive species into our life. As humans, we need to acknowledge that we have selfish hearts and that nothing we do on our own will engender lasting change.
When rats of confusion gnaw on my peace, I remember Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I don’t have to solve all the world’s problems (or even my own problems) on my own.
Father God, help me to stop trying to solve all my problems with my own understanding. Show me how to give my problems to you. I only make problems worse when I try to solve them with my own understanding.