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The mongoose in Australia: Failed introduction of a biological control agent



We reviewed historical literature and obtained nearly 200 records of the mongoose in Australia up to 1942. Although the earliest importations (from 1855) were for its snake-killing prowess, often as entertainment, its perceived potential as a control agent for the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) plague saw concerted introductions made in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, primarily in 1883 and 1884. At least 1000 mongoose were released to control rabbits at 14 reported release locations in these states. As many as 700 of these mongoose were reported released in one New South Wales rabbit-control trial. These numbers indicate that insufficient propagule pressure does not explain why Australia escaped the additional devastation of an established mongoose population. The only reason stated for the failure of the mongoose releases to control rabbits is destruction of the mongoose by rabbit trappers, both inadvertently and in seeking to protect their employment. Unfavourable climate was implicated by CLIMATCH modelling in the failure of all releases, especially those into semiarid areas such as western New South Wales. No contemporary detail could be located of the reported 1884 failed introduction of 'numbers' of mongoose into North Queensland to control rats in sugarcane plantations.
The mongoose in Australia: failed introduction
of a biological control agent
David Peacock
and Ian Abbott
Natural Resources Management Biosecurity Unit, Biosecurity SA, GPO Box 1671, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.
School of Earth and Environment, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western
Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6007, Australia and Science Division, Department of Environment
and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Bentley, WA 6983, Australia.
Corresponding author. Email:
Abstract. We reviewed historical literature and obtained nearly 200 records of the mongoose in Australia up to 1942.
Although the earliest importations (from 1855) were for its snake-killing prowess, often as entertainment, its perceived
potential as a control agent for the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) plague saw concerted introductions made in New
South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, primarily in 1883 and 1884. At least 1000 mongoose were released to control
rabbits at 14 reported release locations in these states. As many as 700 of these mongoose were reported released in one New
South Wales rabbit-control trial. These numbers indicate that insufcient propagule pressure does not explain why Australia
escaped the additional devastation of an established mongoose population. The only reason stated for the failure of the
mongoose releases to control rabbits is destruction of the mongoose by rabbit trappers, both inadvertently and in seeking to
protect their employment. Unfavourable climate was implicated by CLIMATCH modelling in the failure of all releases,
especially those into semiarid areas such as western New South Wales. No contemporary detail could be located of the
reported 1884 failed introduction of numbersof mongoose into North Queensland to control rats in sugarcane plantations.
Additional keywords: biocontrol, bounty, Herpestes,Oryctolagus cuniculus, pest, rabbit.
The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus, formerly
H. javanicus: Veron et al.2007; Gilchrist et al.2009) has been
so successful and devastating an invader when introduced to
other lands that it has been nominated as the fourth worst invasive
mammal in the world (Global Invasive Species Database 2005).
The success of the 1872 introduction of H. auropunctatus to
Jamaica, reected in its establishment across the island from
four male and ve female founders, and subsequent destruction
of cane eld rats, is reported in Espeut (1882). Similarly, the
Indian grey mongoose (H. edwardsii) and the ichneumon
(H. ichneumon) have also been successfully introduced to
locations and habitats remote from their native geographical
ranges (Long 2003). It is therefore remarkable that the few
accounts known of the introduction of mongooseinto Australia
report their failure (Palmer 1898; Anonymous 1946; reviewed in
Rolls 1969; Long 2003).
In an attempt to improve understanding of the failed Australian
introductions of this proposed biocontrol, and of the determinants
of success and failure in vertebrate introductions in general
(Simberloff 2009), a search was made of non-scientic literature
for overlooked additional details of the reported failed
introductions, as well as any additional information of relevance.
The aim of this research was therefore to locate details of the
actual mongoose species introduced into Australia, ascertain
the numbers introduced (propagule pressure), determine the
locations of release sites and thus the habitats likely to have been
experienced by mongoose, consider causes of mortality, and
evaluate the contribution of these factors to the failure of the
mongooseto establish in Australia, in comparison with its
establishment elsewhere.
Historical literature including newspapers, Parliamentary debates
(Hansard), and Government Gazettes were searched during
previous research (Abbott 2002,2008; Peacock 2009; Peacock
et al.2010). The Herald (Melbourne) and The Times (London)
were reviewed online for the periods 18401890 and 18401950
respectively. Two widely circulating rural newspapers, The
Australasian (Melbourne) and The Western Mail (Perth) were
searched for the periods 18661901 and 19051940 respectively.
Comprehensive indexes of news items in The Argus (Melbourne)
for the period 18601869 (Suter 1999) were also reviewed.
New sources of information accessed for this study were the
National Library of Australias online newspaper digitisation
website (, last accessed
CSIRO 2010 10.1071/ZO10043 0004-959X/10/040205
CSIRO PUBLISHING Short Communication Australian Journal of Zoology, 2010, 58, 205227
31 December 2009), covering the period 18031954. The
Manning Index of South Australian History, listing materials
located by the historian Geoffrey Manning, was also searched.
Reecting the variety of names for which mongoose were known,
the keywords searched for were mongoose, mungoose, mongous,
mongoos, mongheer, monghoor, and ichneumon.
All accounts that discuss the presence, importation, or release
of mongoose in Australia were tabulated (Appendices 1and 2,
summarised in Table 1). As replicated reporting of a news article
or advertisement was frequent, only original citations or
signicant variants were included. Only a few of the accounts that
discussed the release into the wild of mongoose provided a
geographical location. However, as these are signicant due to the
numbers released and account details, they have been mapped
(Fig. 1).
Australian museum collections were searched for any
Herpestes specimens collected in Australia or intercepted from a
ship (Kitchener and Vicker 1981; Online Zoological Collections
of Australian Museums (OZCAM), searched July 2009).
A climate-match analysis, based on temperature and rainfall,
was undertaken for H. edwardsii using CLIMATCH (Bureau of
Rural Sciences 2009). Source climate station data, utilising the
World Stationsdataset, were selected on the basis of the native
range of H. edwardsii dened by Long (2003). CLIMATCH
scores between 0, the least adequate match with source climate
station data, and 8, the most satisfactory match, were calculated
using climatic data for Australia. Additional details of the climate
parameters and methodology of CLIMATCH are available in
Crombie et al.(2008) and Bomford et al.(2009).
In addition to the known accounts (Palmer 1898; Anonymous
1946; reviewed in Rolls 1969; Long 2003), numerous additional
records were located that demonstrate that imports were intended
either for rabbit control (releases into wild, Appendix 1) or for
exhibition to the public in menageries, zoos, or snake ghts, for
domestic pets, and for control of domestic pests (Appendix 2).
A summary of these results is detailed in Table 1.
The earliest record found of the mongoose in Australia is 1855
(record 55/1 in Appendix 2). This, together with those in
Appendix 2from 1859 (records 59/1, 59/2, 59/3, 59/7, 59/9), the
1860s (records 60/2, 61/1, 62/2, 63/2, 63/3, 65/1, 67/1, 68/1, 68/2,
68/3, 69/1, 69/2, 69/3, 69/4), 1870s (70/1, 72/1, 73/1, 78/1) and
1880s (81/1, 81/3, 82/1, 86/1) primarily relate to the discussion,
importation or use of the mongoose as snake-ghting
entertainment or for potential biocontrol of snakes. The primary
period for mongoose accounts in relation to rabbit control were
Table 1. Summary of early records of mongoose in Australia related to their release into the wild as a biological control agent for agricultural pests
(accounts in Appendix 1; Record numbers refer to account number and year: e.g. 83/17 refers to the 17th record from 1883)
In assessing the number of mongoose released and their release locations, apparent duplicate accounts have been excluded. For this and apparent under-reporting of
mongoose accounts (e.g. 84/17 states consignments were arriving almost every week) minima are stated. Accounts are summarised under biological
controlrelated topics, or under most common topics. n= the number of: mongoose released, release events, release locations, unconrmed releases or release
failures blamed on rabbiters
nAccounts and details
Minimum number of mongoose reported to have
been released in Australia
~1000 83/17 =60 (Mulurulu), 83/23 = 42 (NSW), 84/1= 1 (Cobden), 84/2= 52 (Torrumbarry),
84/7 = 12 (NSW), 84/9 = 100 (Morgan), 84/10 = 10 (Vic.), 84/12 = ~50 (?Vic.), 84/22 = 60
(Paringa), 87/1 = ~700 (western NSW by David Chrystal), 88/1 = 28 (Teryawynia)
Minimum number of reported release events 14 83/12, 83/15, 83/16, 83/18, 83/21, 83/22, 84/1, 84/3, 84/9, 84/10, 84/12, 84/17 = 700
[also states consignments were arriving almost every week], 84/22
Minimum number of reported release locations 14 83/12 (Torrumbarry Station), 83/13 (Euston), 83/16 and 85/7 (western Victoria), 83/18
(island), 84/1 (Cobden), 84/2 and 88/2 (Mulurulu), 84/9 (Morgan), 84/22 (Paringa),
84/24 (?Johnstone River), 85/5 (Wentworth), 87/1 (Balranald and Wilcannia), 88/1
(Teryawynia), 03/1 (Yudnapinna)
Unconrmed releases and/or import numbers 10 83/13, 83/14, 83/15, 83/16, 83/19, 84/3, 84/10, 84/12, 85/7, 03/1
Failure of the mongoose to persist blamed on
trapping by rabbiters
10 83/20, 83/24, 83/25, 84/1, 84/20, 85/7, 87/3, 87/4, 88/1, 88/2
Accounts that recommended or detailed the release of mongoose in Australia, or detailed the protection of released mongoose
To control rabbits 34 77/1, 78/2, 81/1, 83/1, 83/3, 83/7, 83/10, 83/12, 83/18, 83/20, 83/21, 83/22, 83/23, 83/24,
83/25, 83/26, 84/5, 84/9, 84/12, 84/19, 84/20, 84/25, 84/26, 85/7, 85/8, 89/1, 91/1, 92/1,
01/1, 02/1, 06/1, 07/1
To control rats 3 83/3, 84/24, 85/4
To control problem native wildlife such
as bandicoots
3 78/1, 81/1, 83/3
Other proposed benets 3 83/4, 84/4, 84/5
Accounts that opposed the release of mongoose
Because of potential harm they could cause
to poultry
11 83/5, 83/7, 83/8, 83/11, 84/4, 84/6, 84/14, 84/23, 85/5, 00/1, 07/1
Because of potential harm they could cause to lambs 3 84/6, 00/1, 07/1
Because of generalised potential harm 13 83/5, 83/6, 83/7, 84/4, 84/6, 84/16, 84/17, 84/18, 84/21, 85/1, 85/8, 00/1, 07/1, 35/1
Considered climatically or physically unsuited
or not needed
5 83/2, 83/9, 85/2, 85/6, 24/1
206 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
the years 1883 and 1884 (both with 26 accounts in Appendix 1).
The temporal distribution of accounts is shown in Fig. 2.
Most detail was found for the release of mongoose into the
western Riverinadistrict of New South Wales as a biocontrol
agent for the European rabbit. Although the numbers being
transported and/or released were often not reported, the number
of release events and the numbers of mongoose liberated are
surprisingly high for a species that failed to establish. For
example, in Appendix 1, 12 mongoose (84/7), 28 mongoose onto
Teryawynia Station (88/1), upwards of 50 mongeese(84/12), 60
mongoose deployed at Paringa Station (84/22), ~240 mongoose
(84/3, 84/5), 500 mongoose onto Mulurulu Station (88/2) and
700800 mongoose (84/5, 84/17, 87/1).
The search of the mammal collections in Australian museums
found 24 Herpestes specimens, representing ve species. This
material includes:
*11 H. edwardsii specimens in the Australian Museum
(A.17670, July 1883, source = museum director; B.5901,
January 1885, source = unknown; M.26, September 1886,
source = B. F. Purcell, locality = Ceylon [Sri Lanka], sent to
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania; M.1019,
December 1895, source = unknown; M.1094, May 1896,
source = H. C. Purcell[Brisbane Dr/surgeon?]; M.1498,
April 1900, source = Zoological Society; M.2583, August
1915, source = Zoological Society; M.2888, September
1920, source = H. Whyte, locality = southern India; PA.1476,
~1862, source = unknown; PA.1477, pre-1862, source =
110°E 120°E 130°E 140°E 150°E
110°E 120°E 130°E 140°E 150°E
Fig. 1. Locations referred to in mongoose biocontrol release accounts (Appendix 1) overlain over the CLIMATCHclimate-match analysis for
H. edwardsii in Australia. Areas shaded for Climate7 are locations with the highest climatic suitability, as compared with climate data for the natural
range of H. edwardsii. Location coordinates were obtained from Geoscience Australia website ( A, Yudnapinna;
B, Anlaby; C, Morgan; D, Paringa; E, Wentworth; F, Teryawynia; G, Wilcannia; H, Mulurulu; I, Euston; J, Balranald; K, Murray Downs;
L, Torrumbarry; M, Echuca; N, Cobden; O, Colac; P, Steiglitz; Q, Staughton Vale; R, Johnstone River.
Number of accounts
Year ran
Biocontrol accounts (Appendix 1)
Non-biocontrol accounts (Appendix 2)
Fig. 2. Temporal distribution of mongoose accounts, comparing the
numbers of accounts discussing the import or use of mongoose as a biological
control agent for agricultural pests (Appendix 1), and those discussing their
import or use for other purposes (Appendix 2).
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 207
Madras Museum; PA.1478, pre-1862, source = Madras
Museum, sent to Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery).
*three H. ichneumon in the Australian Museum (M.1523,
July 1900, source = Zoological Society; M.24080, July 1991,
source = Tel Aviv University Zoo; M.34265, May 1999,
source = unknown).
*two H. javanicus in the Australian Museum (A.10580,
September 1881, source = purchased; PA.1479, ~1871,
locality = Java, Indonesia).
*one H. pulverulentus in the Australian Museum (PA.1480,
~1871, source = exchanged with Hamburg Museum).
*two H. sanguinea in the South Australian Museum (M01027
and M01028) and sourced from Somaliland, Africa, in 1898.
*ve Herpestes for which the species is unknown, in the
collection of the Australian Museum (A.12823, April 1882,
source = Mr Asher? (82/2); A.13157, August 1882,
source = Bradley, Newton and Lamb (82/3); B.2691, July
1884, source = Zoological Society [of New South Wales?]
(June; 84/7?); M.107, October 1887, source = Miller;
M.38592, December 2005). September 1884 Zoological
Societydonation of a mongoose(84/8) isnt held.
It is not known if any of the above-listed museum material was
collected from the wild in Australia.
The climate-match analysis undertaken for H. edwardsii is
shown in Fig. 1. Bomford et al.(2009: 194) found that Climate7
scores gave the best discrimination between successful and failed
species. Utilising this level as the cut-off, none of the reported
release sites, except perhaps the reported release into the cane
elds of north Queensland (Anonymous 1946), equalled or
exceeded this climate-match level (Fig. 1). Areas of Australia
which had Climate7 scores for H. edwardsii were the northern
half of Western Australia, most of the Northern Territory and the
western half of Queensland (Fig. 1).
We had expected to nd records of mongoose present in Australia
soon after European settlement (1788), at least as household pets
or being used to control vermin in and around houses. We also
hypothesised that mongoose would have been used in rabbit
control no earlier than the late 1860s, when rabbits rst became an
economic problem in Victoria, following their release in 1859. In
both situations, however, the rst records dated from much later,
namely 1855 and 1883 respectively (Fig. 2).
One record (84/21 in Appendix 1) remains both enigmatic and
problematic through its vagueness. This is the 1884 supposed
introduction of mongoose into north Queensland (Anonymous
1946). Our concerted attempts to verify this, by reviewing
historical accounts of the sugarcane industry in Queensland,
have proven unsuccessful. We provisionally accept the record
as plausible, as it is known that rat plagues in sugarcane
plantations in the Johnstone River district in ~1885 had
necessitated the release of cats (Abbott 2008: 14). Another source
noted the release of ferrets but offered no details concerning
location or date (Queensland Parliamentary Debates, Legislative
Assembly, 14.8.1889, vol. 58, p. 1120). In 188889 there was a
detailed investigation of failure in the sugarcane industry (Royal
Commission 1889). This included questioning of witnesses
about vermin and the remedies tried to control them. Cane rats are
mentioned as a pest only in the Mackay and Bundaberg districts,
and control was effected with poison. There is no mention of
releases of mongoose. A later account (04/1 in Appendix 1) states
that no releases took place.
Which species of mongoose were imported into Australia?
Mongoose (Family Herpestidae) comprise 34 species found
naturally in southern and south-east Asia and Africa (Gilchrist
et al.2009). We found only one account (76/1 in Appendix 1)of
an African species of herpestid being brought into Australia for
rabbit control. This is surprising, given that Cape Town was a
frequent port of call for ships voyaging between Britain and
Australia before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
Nearly all of the stated source localities for mongoose being
imported into Australia were India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
(Appendices 1and 2), with Calcutta or India being stated 11 times
in Appendix 1(83/8: 100 mongoose; 83/4: 39 mongoose; 83/3: 9
mongoose; 83/14, 83/18: 100 mongoose; 83/21: ~40 mongoose;
84/7: 12 mongoose; 84/9: 100 mongoose; 84/10: 10 mongoose;
84/12: >50 mongoose; 84/17: 700 mongoose; 88/2: 500
mongoose), and Colombo, Ceylon being mentioned four times in
Appendix 1(83/16: some; 84/3, 84/5: 240 mongoose; 84/17:
consignments were arriving almost every week; 84/19:
advertisement for procurement). Referring to New South Wales
releases and the release of more than a hundred individuals ...
near the Murray River(perhaps an allusion to 84/25), Palmer
(1898) refers to the released animals as being the common
mongoose of India (Herpestes mungo or H. griseus), which is
actually H. edwardsii (Wilson and Reeder 2005). However, as
this species was also erroneously stated to have been introduced to
Jamaica, the confusion with H. auropunctatus may also apply to
statements about Australia. H. edwardsii is one of six species of
mongoose (with H. fuscus,H. auropunctatus,H. smithii,H. urva
and H. vitticollis) that Gilchrist et al.(2009) list as resident in India
and Sri Lanka. Support for H. edwardsii as the principal species
introduced to Australia is found in it being by far the most
abundant Australian museum specimen (n= 11, compared with
three H. ichneumon and two H. javanicus). Hinton and Dunn
(1967) suggest, without further information, that H. edwardsii or
H. smithii are the most likely species that were released in north
Queensland (Anonymous 1946).
In conclusion, it appears likely that more than one species of
mongoose was imported to Australia, consistent with the
accounts presented in Appendices 1and 2. However, there is
support for H. edwardsii as the principal species introduced to
Australia, primarily as a biocontrol agent for the European rabbit.
As the perceived success of the Jamaican introduction appears
to have stimulated the Australian rabbit biocontrol releases
(The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser,
8 February 1883: 3; The Australasian, 16 June 1883: 760), it
should have provided support for using the same species,
H. auropunctatus. With Australian releases beginning in 1883,
the year following Espeut (1882), it is of note that in that year
H. auropunctatus was introduced directly to the Fijian islands
from India (Long 2003), the stated source location, or specically
Calcutta as per Espeut (1882), for many of the Australian
accounts. However, notwithstanding any notion at the time of
a mongoose is a mongoose and any will do, born of the
desperation of a seemingly unstoppable rabbit plague, it may have
208 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
been that the larger size of H. edwardsii (~8901790 g cf.
3121300 g: Long 2003) was seen to make it a more worthy
biocontrol agent for the European rabbit, compared with
H. auropunctatus and the smaller rats of Jamaica. Gilchrist et al.
(2009: 280) describe H. edwardsii as appearing to be principally
vertebrate feeders. They also state it to have been observed
feeding on carrion(p. 285), both foraging traits supportive of its
capacity to benet from the over-abundant rabbits and their
What was the motivation for importing mongoose
into Australia?
Our study has revealed three reasons for mongoose being brought
into Australia. The earliest imports were for entertainment,
vermin control, or as household companion animals, and these
usually comprised one or two animals, occasionally up to ve
animals (Appendix 2). The major motivation, however, was
to help contain the plague of rabbits that in the early 1880s
crossed from northern Victoria into western New South Wales
(Appendix 1). This pressing problem demanded the import of
large numbers of mongoose (consignments of 6, 10, 12, 28, 39,
~40, ~25 pairs, upwards of 50, 52, nearly 100, 100, >100, 240, and
~700 animals: Appendix 1).
Notwithstanding earlier suggestions in 187778 (77/1, 78/1,
78/2 in Appendix 1), the impetus for bringing in mongoose was
clearly the paper of Espeut (1882), preceded by his 1881 letter to
The Argus (81/1 in Appendix 1), which publicised its role in
controlling the rat pest in sugarcane plantations in Jamaica (83/1;
83/11 in Appendix 1; see Fig. 2for the 188384 (n= 52) peak in
accounts). Until then, the introduced predator of choice for rabbit
control in Australia was the ferret (Mustela putorius). The ferrets
value in England for hunting rabbits and ridding houses of rats
was well known in Australia (The Port Phillip Herald, 7.ix.1847:
[4], 21.xii.1848: [4]). Ferrets were used for rat control in
Melbourne from the 1850s (The Argus, 11.iv.1857: 8), and were
recorded being used at or near Geelong, Victoria, to hunt rabbits
from 1865 (The Argus, 5.x.1865: 5, 5.ii.1867: 5, 6.viii.1867: 5, 3.
vi.1869: 5). Later accounts attest to their use in New South Wales
and Western Australia (nearly every steamer ... brings dogs,
ferrets and mongoose: 83/13 in Appendix 1: cited by Rolls
(1969)), to address the European rabbit plague (The Maitland
Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 8.v.1883: 4;
The Western Mail, 6). Their importation in 1885 to
control rabbits, and failure to establish permanent populations
(Murchison 1887), is discussed by Long (2003; citing others).
A subsidiary reason for the importation of mongoose into
Australia was that by 1883 numerous methods to control rabbits
had been found wanting. These included netting of farm
boundaries, laying of poisoned baits, trapping for meat and fur,
poisoning of water, fumigating of burrows, ferreting, and
encouraging feral cats (Rolls 1969; Coman 1999). None of these
had eliminated rabbits over large areas. The mongoose had not yet
been tried in Victoria, and so its release in New South Wales had a
rational basis.
Why didnt the mongoose establish in Australia?
In examining the determinants of establishment success for
introduced exotic mammalsBomford et al.(2009) found that
the number of release events and the climate-match score had
the strongest inuence on establishment outcomes, supported
by larger overseas geographic ranges. Although Herpestes was
omitted by Bomford et al.(2009) in their published study,
a preliminary analysis had been undertaken and M. Bomford
(pers. comm. 2009) states:
The world range sizes for both species [H. edwardsii and
H. javanicus] are smaller than the mean (24.6) for the 17
other failed species introduced to Australia. The Climate7
values for both species are higher than the mean (18.2) for
the 17 other failed species introduced to Australia but lower
than the mean (51.1) for the 24 successfully introduced
species. Therefore inclusion of these two species would not
have changed the conclusions drawn in our paper regarding
the role of these two parameters.
Using the assumption that H. edwardsii was the principal
mongoose species repeatedly introduced, in the reported large
numbers, to combat the European rabbit plague, it was assessed
under the primary determinants of establishment success
established by Bomford et al.(2009). A climate-match analysis
using CLIMATCH (Bureau of Rural Sciences 2009) found
H. edwardsii to have had a poor climate match at the locations
where it is reported to have been released (Fig. 1). In 1883 this was
anticipated for areas along the Murray River (83/2 in Appendix 1),
contrary, and in response, to Espeuts advocacy for mongoose to
control rabbits.
The extinction of H. edwardsii in Italy after a period of
~30 years was attributed to a combination of deleterious factors
including low genetic diversity, restricted ranges and non-
adaptation to western Palaearctic winter conditions(Gaubert and
Zenatello 2009: 262). Such extinctions were reviewed by
Simberloff and Gibbons (2004). However, we found no evidence
for mongoose being considered to have established in Australia.
The numbers we report to have been introduced to Australia
would argue against lack of genetic diversity being a reason for
their seemingly rapid decline. However, to improve our
understanding of the Australian mongoose story, we would
recommend an examination of museum specimens as per Veron
et al.(2007) and Gaubert and Zenatello (2009). Unfortunately,
the lack of comparative data on the biology of [H. edwardsii]
(Gaubert and Zenatello 2009: 267) precludes a more discerning
examination of whether perhaps the diurnal and largely solitary
nature of H. edwardsii, coupled with its poor habitat (Herpestes
are principally occupants of forest habitats: Gilchrist et al.
2009: 270) and climate match, exacerbated its poor survival.
A somewhat comparable, but nocturnal, native species, Dasyurus
geoffroii, did inhabit the regions where the mongoose were
Nor could propagule size have been limiting, with eight
accounts stating that 100 or more animals, well in excess of the
nine H. auropunctatus that founded the Jamaica population,
were released. Similarly, both H. edwardsii and H. auropunctatus
are polyoestrous, with ~49 young produced per year, a trait
supportive of a successful introduced species, seen in the
numerous successful introductions of H. auropunctatus.
Contemporary opinion instead blamed the failure of the
mongoose to persist on rabbiters trapping them purposefully in
order to protect their livelihood, or inadvertently (Table 1,
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 209
detailed in Appendix 1). Though no direct evidence of this
destruction was located, additional evidence of the malicious and
accidental destruction of enemies of rabbits by rabbiters is
available (The Sydney Morning Herald, 17.viii.1885: 7, 20.
iii.1897: 10; Crommelin 1886: 16, 36, 40; Royal Commission
1890: 9, 60, 61, 63, 89, 94, 102, 109; Abbott 1913; 13). As an
example of the numbers of rabbiters during the 1880s that could
have impacted locally on released mongoose, Murray Downs
station, located in the area of the main western New South Wales
mongoose releases, had 14 men destroying rabbits (The Riverine
Grazier, 1.xii.1883: 3), with no less than 400 rabbiters employed
on the stations’‘within a radius of 30 milesof Euston (The Argus,
8.xi.1884: 4). In the entire State of New South Wales, 1000 men
were employed in rabbit destruction at 25 shillings per week (The
Argus, 21.ii.1884: 4). As to the value of the rabbits to rabbiters,
The Sydney Morning Herald (27.ii.1890: 4) described the rabbits
as having allowed men who had never previously owned more
than a yearly or a [sheep] shearing cheque to lord it in country
hotels with orders worth hundreds of pounds, to invest in dogcarts
[horse-drawn buggies] of eccentric colour but expensive make
.... In the Euston area this income is reported to have been over
£5 per week ...[with] a bonus of 3d. per scalp and 25s. per week
(The Argus, 8.xi.1884: 4; excluding scalp bonuses, 5 pounds and
25 shillings per week AU$780 per week @ 2008 www.rba., calculated from 1901 from when data
are available). This substantial nancial incentive would support
their reported destruction of the mongoose threat to their lucrative
profession. Additional information about the large amounts of
money paid to rabbiters is provided by Keith (1892: 16, 20).
Contemporary precautionary thinking why
was it ignored?
Several records were found of concern expressed about the risk
that the release of a new predator species might have on poultry
(Table 1, detailed in Appendix 1; records 59/6, 63/3, 84/6, 92/2,
16/2 in Appendix 2) and lambs (Table 1, detailed in Appendix 1).
Sometimes reservations were generalised (Table 1, detailed in
Appendix 1; 93/1 and 00/1 in Appendix 2).
However, the balance of opinion was that the high likelihood
of mongoose exterminating rabbits overrode considerations
about economic impact, reected in their legislated protection
(records 83/10, 92/1, 02/1, 06/1 in Appendix 1). We found only
the reply by the Agricultural Editor, W. C. Grasby (07/1 in
Appendix 1) expressing contemporary concern about impacts on
native fauna. Conversely, the mongoose was seen as a solution
by gradually thinning them [the smaller marsupials] off(78/1 in
Appendix 1) or would kill rabbits as well as uselessnative
animals (83/3 in Appendix 1).
What would have happened to Australias biodiversity
if mongoose had established?
Informed speculation about which indigenous species in
Australia would be vulnerable to predation by mongoose is
possible because of observation of impacts in parts of the world
where mongoose did establish successfully.
Mongoose cleared a ship of rats in a few weeks(Espeut 1882:
713) and ship captains kept a mongoose on board to kill any rats
(Rolls 1969: 113). Rats in Jamaica were successfully controlled
within two years of the release of mongoose in 1872 (Espeut
1882). By the late 1870s, snakes, lizards, toads, larval beetles,
caterpillars, quail, and other ground-nesting birds had all declined
(Espeut 1882). By 1884 opinion was that many members of the
Jamaican fauna are likely to become extinct at no distant date
(Anonymous 1884: 345). Subsequently, the mongoose was
blamed for the decline of turkey buzzards and petrels on Jamaica
(Anonymous 1891). Other indirect effects included an increase in
ticks by 1892 (Gifford 1892; Cockerell 1901). By 1896 all game-
and ground-nesting birds had declined to extreme rarity, though
several reptile species were recovering (Hill 1897). Similar
impacts were similarly reported for the Hawaiian, West Indies and
Caribbean islands (Long 2003) and continue to be a major issue
(Hays and Conant 2007). Mongoose were introduced to Fiji to
control rats in the 1880s; they became very prolic,a worse pest
than the rats, and made it almost impossible to keep poultry
(The Argus, 25.ix.1890: 5), and reportedly caused the
disappearance of wild ducks (The Argus, 5).
A recent study of the impact of mongoose in Japan (Watari
et al.2008) found that mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian
species with bodyweight >10 g declined markedly in the presence
of mongoose. Species <10 g in bodyweight (insects) increased,
possibly through alleviation of predation pressure from larger
species. These changes took place within 24 years of the
introduction of mongoose in 1979.
In conclusion, if mongoose had established an exotic
population in Australia, it is likely that they would have greatly
exacerbated extinctions and declines of many native rodent,
marsupial, reptile, frog, and ground-nesting birds, above that
caused by the introduced fox (Vulpes vulpes) and cat (Felis catus).
However, the extent of these declines may have been mitigated to
some extent by the presence of the larger predators, including the
dingo (Canis lupus dingo) and wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila
audax), which may have suppressed mongoose populations.
We thank: Staff at the State Library of South Australia, particularly Joyce
Garlick, for procuring requested mongoose accounts; David Stemmer, South
Australian Museum, and Sandy Ingleby, Australian Museum, for providing
details of mongoose specimens held in their care; Mary Bomford for reviewing
our CLIMATCH analysis and commenting on the manuscript; and Win
Kirkpatrick and Marion Massam, Western Australian Department of
Agriculture and Food, for running a comparative CLIMATCH analysis
obtaining results similar to those presented in this paper.
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Manuscript received 17 June 2010, accepted 7 September 2010
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 211
Appendix 1. Early records of mongoose and other herpestids in Australia related to their release into the wild as a biological control agent for agricultural pests
In quotations, spelling and capitalisation are exactly as in the original. Abbreviations: NSW, New South Wales; Qld, Queensland; SA, South Australia; Vic., Victoria; WA, Western Australia
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
76/1 1876 Anlaby Station, SA Several ferrets (meerkats, the herpestid Suricata suricatta) from Cape Colony (South Africa) being
imported to clear the land of rabbits.
The Argus 7.xi.1876: 6
77/1 1877 Ever since it was rst reported that mongooses had been introduced into Southland [New Zealand], for
the purpose of keeping down the rabbits ... He says;- From my personal knowledge of the Bengal
mongoose I believe it might be introduced in Australia and New Zealand with the greatestadvantage. It
is an animal of a very hardy nature, quite able to take care of itself, erce, and very courageous, killing
rats, both the common and the bandicoot, although the latter is much larger in size. It is very restless,
roving about over a considerable space. It would cause great destruction among rabbits, I am quite sure,
particularly in destroying the young ones in their burrows. I further believe it would be very unlikelyto
multiply in such numbers as to become a nuisance ...With regard to their introduction, there would be
no difculty in the matter; 50 pairs might be purchased here [Bengal, India] at about two rupees a pair,
placed in separate cages, for they ght and destroy each other if they are together in numbers. ...Mr.
Ramey, a well known naturalist, also, after describing the habits of the Bengal mongoose (Harpestis
Malacceusis Fleurier) writes: On the whole, I think ... the trial of introducing the mongoose in
Australia, with the view of destroying the rabbits there,might be made with great advantage, for, even if
the mongooses afterwards proved equally destructive to poultry and game, they (the mongooses) might
be shot, as they are by no means prolic like rabbits. I would recommend that at rst a pair or two pairs of
mongooses be let loose on a single farm, and the effect they produce carefully watched before
despatching a large number of them to Australia.
The Mercury 5.vii.1877: 3
78/1 1878 Having witnessed the activity, courage, and strength of the common mongoose of India in its furious
attack upon and quick destruction of rabbits, the largest rats, and animals of any such description, in
addition to its hostility to the cobra, as well as its fearlessness of any animal of the size of a cat, when in
any degree provoked, I venture to suggest that a trial should be made of its demeanour in the presence of
the smaller marsupials which, I am told, infest some of the Queensland grazingdistricts to so marvellous
an extent. I believe the mongoose is to be easily had in any numbers from India. If the trial promised to
introduce an enemy which possessed the needful antipathy to the lesser invading species even, it might
become an invaluable auxiliary to the Queensland squatter in gradually thinning them off. It may be
worth trying, and the expense but small, I should think, ascompared with sums I have heard are sunk in
the fruitless efforts made hitherto with that view. Such a remedy, if the mongoose proved to effect one,
would introduce no further enemy to grass or stock, excepting that of the poultry-yard.
The Sydney Morning Herald
10.v.1878: 6
78/2 1878 SA Alluding to the rabbit nuisance, a writer in a South Australian journal recommends the acclimatisation of
the mongoose. He says Put one or two of them in a eld among the rabbits, and I will answer it will be
clear in a week.’’
The Mercury 13.ix.1878: 1s
81/1 1881 Letter from W.B. Espeut FLS, Jamaica, to the editor of The Argus:I am certain that the introduction of the
Indian mongoos will rid Australia of rabbits, and perhaps kangaroos and dingos, by the destruction of
the young animals ... They will prey on rabbits greedily, and once in their clutches no rabbit can
The Argus 5.x.1881: 10
83/1 1883 Mr. W. Bancroft Espent [Espeut] read a paper on the history of the acclimatisation and utilisation of the
mongoose in Jamaica at a recent meeting of the Zoological Society of London, and threw out [i.e.
offered; he was a strong advocate] the suggestion that a trial of its services in Australia as a destroyer of
the rabbit might be found to be advantageous.
The Mercury 5.ii.1883: 2. The
Maitland Mercury & Hunter
River General Advertiser
8.ii.1883: 3
212 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
83/2 1883 the inux of rabbits on the runs near Howlong and properties lower down the river is alarmingly on the
increase. Owners are naturally beginning to cry out, and there is little doubt, as a national loss appears to
be pending, that Government should begin to take steps in thematter ...A paragraph has been going the
rounds lately about the efcacy of the introduction of mongooses in Jamaica, which island they
completely cleared of rabbits, but we are afraid the mongoose would not nd a very congenial habitat on
the banks of the Murray. What this animal wants is a very warm, humid climate, and in any case they are
not a very fecund species and would not increase and multiply sufciently to cope with the myriads of
rabbits which now threaten to infest the district.
The Sydney Morning Herald
7.ii.1883: 910
83/3 1883 A suggestion has been lately made in your columns that the Indian mongoosewould prove a valuable ally
in the efforts being made to cope with this growing pest the rabbit invasion. From a long experience of
the habits of the mongoose, I feel sure that its introduction would be attended with at least immediate
good results ...He pursues rats and mice to the death with virulent and triumphal animosity, and he
would, I believe, make short work with not only rabbits but small wallaby, paddymelons, snakes, and
other useless janwarsin this country. I have known a couple of mongoose destroy over 40 crocodile
eggs in a single night. They often kill a dozen rats right off, and with rabbits such is their weasel or
ferret nature I fancy they would slay right on till glutted with slaughter, when they would rest and
commence again. They are easily domesticated, and if introduced into the rabbit-infested districts,
where there are few poultry, they could not fail, I think, to give a good account of themselves.
The Sydney Morning Herald
10.ii.1883: 8
83/4 1883 Australians will be glad to learn that much sympathy is felt for them in this country [?Britain] under their
rabbit iniction, and that scientists and naturalists are discussing warmly the probable advantages and
disadvantages of introducing the mongoose to keep down the plague.This article discusses its
usefulness in destroying reptiles and vermin of all sorts, its readiness to become a pet, and its value in
nearly exterminating a plague of rats in Jamaica.
The Herald [Melbourne]
21.ii.1883: [2]
83/5 1883 NSW If the rabbits were a pest to graziers and others, the mongoose would be a still greater pest to the whole
community ...The mongoose was a bloodthirsty animal which would destroy not only rabbits but also
fowls, and almost any small animals. Some who knew a great deal about the mongoose went so far as to
say that it would attack children.The Minister conrmed that the Government intended to introduce
mongoose, sourced from Ceylon. Other comments: mongooses were not very desirable animals to
introduce here[on account of their fondness for poultry and their eggs]; I hope that nothing of the sort
[importing mongoose] will be done;we shall have another species of destructive vermin which may
have to be extirpated
New South Wales
Parliamentary Debates
7.iii.1883: 819, 821, 822;
15.iii.1883: 987, 991
83/6 1883 Recounts the ferocity a mongoose from India killed rats on a steamer ship and concludes if the Australians
intend to let the Indian beasts go loose in their country in scores of couples, as is said, there is a sad future
before the Australians, I fancy.
The Brisbane Courier
8.iii.1883: 3
83/7 1883 NSW Third reading of the Rabbit Nuisance Bill: Mr. McLAUGHLIN ...As to the importation of mongooses,
they would prove a greater pest than the rabbits. They were bloodthirsty animals if they were to believe
what was said of them by those who ought to know best. It was said that they would destroy children.
They destroyed fowls and other valuable birds and animals. The rabbit was only a nuisance to the
selectors and squatters, and he thought rabbits should be permitted to be kept in well secured cages ...
Mr. FREMLIN remarked that in England the stoat did the work which the mongoose performed in
India. It would by blood-sucking destroy rabbit after rabbit, while the animals which in the colonies
killed the rabbit did so by devouring it. The mongoose was an inoffensive animal which was played with
The Sydney Morning Herald
by children. He thought to introduce it into the colony was one of the wisest things they could do. If they
had not extreme legislation on this question they would have extreme desolation to meet. He would
recommend not only the mongoose to be introduced, but the polecat, the stoat, and the weasel
(Laughter) ...MrGOULD ...Some reference had been made to the mongoose, and he noticed in one of
the papers the other day an extract from an English paper which stated that this was a most bloodthirsty
animal, which did not conne itself to killing rabbits, and he hoped the Government would be careful in
introducing this animal. Sir HENRY PARKES said that he did not think the mongoose would attack
8.iii.1883: 5
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 213
Appendix 1. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
rabbits, for it was a singularly gentle and inoffensive creature, only remarkable for its instinct for
attacking and killing poisonous reptiles. We had in the colony a much ercer animal in the native cat,
which unfortunately did not exist in numbers in the districts infested by the rabbits. As far as the
mongoose was concerned, they would not be more formidable to the rabbits than so many wax dolls.
83/8 1883 NSW respecting the habits of the ...[mongoose], which, Mr. Abbott proposes to import for the destruction of
rabbits, observations are recounted of a demonstration 10 years ago, by Mr. Gerard Krefft of two caged
mongoose killing, in two minutes, a defanged black snake. My own opinion is that the mongoose will
not eat snakes or kill them if it can get better food, and that it will prefer chickens and eggs to rabbits if it
gets the choice. It would appear as if many people thought that the mongoose would catch rabbits and
suck their blood ... The experience of the Botany man who fed the mongseee [mongoose] did not
favour this view. Personally I think wild ferrets about as useful as mongooses.
The Sydney Morning Herald
12.iii.1883: 3
83/9 1883 NSW With regard to the Rabbit Bill in the Legislative Assemblyit is suggested that mongoose though it will
kill a snake, and may kill a rat, yet is too large to penetrate into holes and small burrowsand instead
lauds the the stoats and weasels of Great Britainas the solution to the countrys rabbit problem. It is
stated they can easily be bought in England by a notice in Leadenhall Market at ~2s. 6d. each,
The Sydney Morning Herald
14.iv.1883: 13
83/10 1883 NSW Under section 31 of the Rabbit Nuisance Act 1883, a proclamation is published declaring six species
[iguana, the native cat, the tiger cat, ferrets, the mongoose, stoats] to be enemies of the rabbit, and the
following districts [Albury, The Hume, The Murrumbidgee, The Murray, Balranald, Bourke,
Wentworth] in which these animals must not be killed or captured without special permit. The
domestic cat was added subsequently.
New South Wales Government
Gazette Supplement
1.v.1883: 2415; 31.
vii.1883: 4130. The Sydney
Morning Herald 2.v.1883: 5
83/11 1883 Mr Espent [Espeut], who introduced 9 mongoose to Jamaica in 1872, has offered to send some to Australia
and New Zealand. Comment: the introduction of a new species into a district should not be done
rashly.Noted that mongoose eat chicken eggs.
The Australasian
83/12 1883 Torrumbarry Station, Vic. According to the Riverine Herald, the mongoose is about to have a trial of his powers in rabbit
extermination. Mr. Chrystal, of Torrumbarry Station, is the introducer of these little Indian animals. By
the Pride of the Murray, s.s [paddle steamer; Echuca Victoria; still operating], which sailed a few days
since, he forwarded a consignment of mongooses for the purpose of using them on his runs.(See 87/1,
The Maitland Mercury &
Hunter River General
Advertiser 12.vii.1883: 5.
The Australasian
7.vii.1883: 24. The Adelaide
Observer 14.vii.1883: 10
83/13 1883 Euston, NSW nearly every steamer from Echuca (Victoria) brings dogs, ferrets, and mongoose, if not for this particular
rabbit district, at all events for the surrounding ones.
The Sydney Morning Herald
17.viii.1883: 5. The
Riverine Grazier
22.viii.1883: 2 (cited by
Rolls 1969)
83/14 1883 To NSW from India A letter has been received by the Colonial Secretary from the Director of the Zoological Gardens,
Calcutta, stating that 100 Mongoose have been collected for New South Wales, and will in due course
be shipped to Sydney.
The Sydney Morning Herald
25.viii.1883: 9. The
Maitland Mercury & Hunter
River General Advertiser
28.viii.1883: 6
83/15 1883 Melbourne, Vic. A shipment of mongoose landed from the Rosetta, to be employed in the destruction of rabbits.The Argus 3.ix.1883: 6
83/16 1883 Colac, Vic. Some mongoose have been imported from Colombo for rabbit extermination by one or two landowners of
large estates in the Western district. They were kept in connement at Colac for a timebefore being
The Argus 11.x.1883: 9. The
Maitland Mercury & Hunter
River General Advertiser
13.x.1883: 2s. The
Wilcannia Times 19.x.1883:
214 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
83/17 1883 Mulurulu, NSW Mr. Brook, of Tapio Station, Euston ...had ordered 200 native cats, 60 mongoose [to control rabbits] ...
report from Mr. H. P. Richardson, Rabbit Inspector ...These mongooses were let go on the north-east
portion of Kilfera C [Mulurulu station], on the 11th August ...My opinion is they will be a success ...
The Sydney Morning Herald
26.x.1883: 8. The Riverine
Grazier 31.x.1883: 2 (cited
by Rolls 1969)
83/18 1883 Riverina, NSW Mr. ABBOTT stated that 22 mongoose were about to be sent to Mr. McKenzie to put on an islandwith a
view to the eradication of rabbits. Mr. Crozier said he had sent to Calcutta for 100 mongoose, to be
employed in the destruction of rabbits. Mr. ABBOTT said he had given instructions for Mr. Crystal to
be allowed to try the experiment of using mongoose on an island for a period of six months, and similar
permission would be granted to any other owners who might apply. He would see that the inspector did
not interfere in those cases.[see 83/19, 23]
The Sydney Morning Herald
21.xi.1883: 7
83/19 1883 Riverina, NSW Operations for the destruction of rabbits in Riverina continue to be carried on with great vigour, and the
staff of inspectors are working very energetically for the extinction of the pest. The Government have
lent several mongoose to the Riverina run-holders, to try their effects on the rabbits on a piece of land
badly infested, which is nearly surrounded with water [at the junction of the Murray and
Murrumbidgee Rivers; see 83/23].
The Sydney Morning Herald
23.xi.1883: 7. The Brisbane
Courier 23.xi.1883: 5; also
The Argus 23.xi.1883: 8
83/20 1883 NSW Letter advocating the introduction of large numbers of the natural enemies of the rabbit, including
mongoose. The mongoose has already been imported by David Chrystal and is doing good work.
They kill for the sake of killing. A point is made about adverse consequences of other rabbit control
methods: trapping and fumigating also kill the mongoose.
The Australasian 24.xi.1883:
83/21 1883 NSW The steam ship Newcomen, from Calcutta, India has on board 40 mongoose, which are to be employed in
extirpating rabbits in the southern and western districts of the colony. Number of mongoose is also
stated to have been 39 and 42.
The Sydney Morning Herald
30.xi.1883: 7; 1.xii.1883:
13. The Brisbane Courier
1.xii.1883: 5. The Argus
1.xii.1883: 10
83/22 1883 Riverina, NSW Government has lent several mongoose to run holders, as an experiment in rabbit control. The Australasian 1.xii.1883:
83/23 1883 NSW, including Riverina Forty-two mongooses have arrived in Sydney and will be lent out to those who require them. Several are
to be placed on the island at the junction of the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers to test their
exterminating powers.[see 83/18, 19]
The Riverine Grazier
1.xii.1883: 3 (cited by Rolls
83/24 1883 Mulurula [Mulurulu] station,
Information has been received by the Minister for Mines that the mongoose [plural] recently sent into the
rabbit districts are doing good work ... Mr. David Chrystal, of Mulurula ... says Concerning the
mongoose, they are doing wonderful work, and my only trouble is that I have no more of them.He
thinks that, to ensure the complete success of the experiment, the mongoose should be let loose in parts
of the country exempt from the provisions of the rabbit regulations relating to fumigation and rabbiters.
He expresses this opinion, because the rabbiter can easily trap the mongoose, and will do so.
The Sydney Morning Herald
17.xii.1883: 7. The Argus
17.xii.1883: 8. The Mercury
18.xii.1883: 3
83/25 1883 NSW In follow up to The Sydney Morning Herald 17.12.1883: 7. Cats and iguanas [goannas] are not exactly the
equivalent of the mongoose or we should not require to be importing ...both also fall naturally into the
common-place trap set for the rabbits, and there in little doubt that the mongoose would follow. This
correspondent [David Chrystal] is not exactly clear in his indictment against the trappers. Is it of malice
or carelessness? a sort of instinct to protect a lucrative employment, or a careless method which makes
sh of everything entering a net?
The Sydney Morning Herald
18.xii.1883: 7
83/26 1883 NSW The following is a copy of the report of the Chief Inspector of Stock to the Minister for Mines ...The 40
mongoose which have recently arrived from India are to be placed on an island in the Lower Murray, on
Mr. Croziers run.
The Sydney Morning Herald
19.xii.1883: 5
84/1 1884 Curdie River, near Cobden,
A mongoose captured in a rabbit trap. The Argus 15.i.1884: 6
84/2 1884 Mulurulu station, NSW Mr. David Chrystal, of Torrumbarry, Echuca, has written to the Minister for Mines, stating that he
received 52 mongoose by the last P. and O. Co.s steamer, and that he has forwarded them to Mulurulu
station, in the Darling district.
The Sydney Morning Herald
29.i.1884: 7. The Argus
29.i.1884: 5
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 215
Appendix 1. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
84/3 1884 Melbourne, Vic. The Rosetta shipped at Colombo ~340 mongoose, consigned to Gibbs, Bright and Co., Melbourne. More
than 100 had died on the voyage between Colombo and Albany, Western Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald 1.
ii.1884: 8. The Argus 1.
ii.1884: 6
84/4 1884 Vic. Debate about the likelihood of the mongoose becoming as great a pest in Victoria as the rabbit. However,
its predation of chickens and eggs should be offset by the numbers of snakes destroyed.
The Argus 1.ii.1884: 10
84/5 1884 Riverina district, NSW For the past six months the mail steamers have been bringing out from Ceylon large consignments of
mongooses, which have been turned loose in the rabbit-infested plains of the [NSW/Vic] border
country. Up to the present it is believed that the animals have done good service in destroying the pest;
but sufcient time has not yet elapsed to produce any very decisive results. [Whenthe 240 shipped by
the Rosetta arrive] at their destination the total number imported will have been between 700and 800. In
addition to their liking for rabbits, mongooses have a decided partiality for snakes, and this will
probably be of great service also in the districts where they are being acclimatised.
The Argus 2.ii.1884: 9. The
Mercury 6.ii.1884: 2
84/6 1884 ?Vic. Government is exercising caution about proposals to bring mongoose (and weasels, stoats, polecats) to
prey on rabbits in infested districts. Concern that these predators may change their diet once set free, just
as the rabbit has changed its habits (climbing trees and swimming creeks), and become a pest. Concern
also expressed about likely mongoose predation on poultry and possible attacks on lambs and children.
The Argus 5.ii.1884: 5
84/7 1884 Sydney, NSW Newcomen (s.), from Calcutta: ... 3 cages mongoose (12).The Sydney Morning Herald
27.iii.1884: 6
84/8 1884 There has been some talk of ferrets, and of an Indian equivalent, called a mongoose. Both aredestructive
enough; destroying every creature they see, and then only sucking their blood. But the rabbit has ...
much greater fecundity than any member of the weasel family.
The Times 3.iv.1884: 9
84/9 1884 Morgan SA, in transit to
Murray River property
A consignment of nearly 100 of these little animals has arrived at Morgan in transit from India for removal
to a sheep station on the River Murray, in charge of a native of Calcutta. From observation and
information as to their nature and habits afforded by their keeper I should judge them well adapted for
their mission of destruction among the rabbits, the present scourge of squatters. This is not the rst, but
largest, importation I have seen up to the present time.
The Register [Adelaide] 2.
v.1884: 7. The Argus
2.v.1884: 5. The Mercury
5.v.1884: 3
84/10 1884 Vic. The ship Martin Scott, which arrived yesterday morning from Calcutta. Mr. J. C. Kiernander, director of
the Horticultural and Agricultural Societys Gardens, Calcutta, was also a passenger. He brings some
mongoose with him to be utilised for rabbit destruction.Ten young males were brought.
The Sydney Morning Herald
16.v.1884: 8. The Brisbane
Courier 17.v.1884: 6. The
Argus 16.v.1884: 5
84/11 1884 Letter to the editor by J. C. Kiernander, Melbourne, about the success of mongoose in Calcutta clearing
the Agricultural and Horticultural Societys gardens of rabbits, squirrels, rats andsnakes. This species is
domesticated in Bengal. It is unlikely to attack lambs and children. In the north-west provinces of India,
which in the winter months are almost quite as cold as Victoria, the mongoose is very rare, and I
therefore opine that the animal is not likely to propagate in sufcient numbers ever to be a nuisance in
this colony.
The Argus 27.v.1884: 7
84/12 1884 None stated [A] squatter living in the neighbourhood had lately imported upwards of 50 mongeese from India,for the
purpose of destroying rabbits on his station.
The Argus 30.v.1884: 7
84/13 1884 Letter from a former resident of Calcutta about the mongoose. It would not attack children or lambs (in
relation to its value as a rabbit destroyer).
The Australasian 31.v.1884:
84/14 1884 Letter: The mongoose is a poultry destroyer (a squatter has imported 50 from India). Comment: the
introduction of any foreign vermin into Australia is a thing that requires extreme caution.
The Australasian
84/15 1884 Report of high demand for mongoose by visitors to Colombo [?for rabbit control]. Writer doubts that a
mongoose could kill a red-bellied black snake in Victoria as easily as it does the cobra in Ceylon.
The Argus 17.vii.1886: 4
84/16 1884 Melbourne, Vic. Letter to the editor counselling caution before introducing the mongoose for rabbit control. The Argus 16.viii.1884: 5
216 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
84/17 1884 Vic. The Legislative Assembly was informed that the mongoose was being imported in considerable
numbers; concern that this species may prove much worse than the rabbit. Should its importation be
prohibited? Several months previously Mr Service requested approval to import the mongoose. At
present the Government is powerless to prevent the importation of animals. The Acclimatisation
Society of Victoria is not involved in the importation of the mongoose. Divergence of opinion among
parliamentarians: some consider it likely to be a great pest; others that the climate is too cold for it and it
consequently became paralysed, and would not live here. One MLA [Member of the Legislative
Assembly] had visited India and ascertained that the mongoose is very destructive: The vessel by
which he returned from India brought ~700 mongoose, and consignments were arriving almost
every week from Ceylon.
Victoria Parliamentary
Debates 11.ix.1884, vol. 46:
1384, 1386
84/18 1884 Vic. The Premier said that mongoose can be of no service in destroying rabbits; Government to consider a bill
prohibiting the importation of noxious animals.
The Australasian 20.ix.1884:
84/19 1884 Sydney, NSW THE MONGOOSE. Persons wanting MONGOOSE from Ceylon, for destroying rabbits, should apply
to the undersigned, whose agent is shortly to sail. MUNRO and WITTS, Seven Hills.
The Sydney Morning Herald
20.ix.1884: 16
84/20 ?1880s ?NSW Recently he [Anon.] heard that many years ago the mongoose was tried in one Australian State, and
proved so effective that several rabbit-trappers, fearing the loss of a protable job, destroyed it.
The Argus 30.x.1932: 5
84/21 1884 Dogs, ferrets, or stoats, mongooses, andc., may destroy a number [of rabbits], or drive them away to other
places; but they simply help to spread the evil instead of eradicating the pest, and, in all probability, may
prove as great a nuisance as the rabbits themselves.
The Sydney Morning Herald 5.
xi.1884: 10
84/22 1884 Paringa, SA 60 mongoose (at total cost of £45) deployed in the control of rabbits. South Australia Parliamentary
Debates 6.xi.1884: col.
84/23 1884 Vic. Conicting accounts of the value of the mongoose, weasel and polecat as a method of rabbit control. These
species would eat poultry; in any case, rabbits will always outlive predators.
The Australasian 27.xii.1884:
84/24 1884 North Queensland, Qld (?
Johnstone River district)
In 1884 the mongoose [probably Herpestes edwardsi or H. smithi*] was introduced from Ceylon into
North Queensland to cope with a plague of rats which threatened ruin to the sugercane planters. For
some inexplicable reason the creatures did not thrive; numbers were turned adrift in the caneelds, but
with the exception of one, which had evidently been a pet, and which, in consequence, soon established
itself as a member of the nearest household, the whole lot mysteriously disappeared.
Anon. (1946);* Hinton and
Dunn (1967)
84/25 1880s near the Murray Riverand in
New South Wales
pp. 9396: Regarding the common mongoose of India (Herpestes mungo or H. griseus)[H. edwardsii:
Wilson and Reeder 2005]. Early in the [eighteen] eighties several experiments were made in Australia,
which resulted in failure. More than a hundred individuals were liberated near the Murray River, and
others in New South Wales.
Palmer (1898: 96)
84/26 ?1884 Melbourne, Vic. In the 80s Mr. Chrystal imported several specimens of the mongoose from India in the hope of clearing
out the rabbits on the property [at Torrumbarry, Victoria]. There was some difculty about landing
these animals, but a permit was obtained, and they were brought up from the ...steamer in their cages
and put into Grices Bond for the night to be forwarded to Echuca by rail next day. Whether it was that
the store cats interfered or that the imported animals wanted ght was not ascertained, and the morning
showed a battle-eld of dead and maimed cats, and those which did not suffer were too scared to be of
service again.
The Argus 8.i.1938: 6
85/1 1885 Vic. Letter critical of speculative theoristswho advocate ridiculous notions, including importing stoats,
weasels, polecats, mongooses and foxes[for rabbit control].
The Australasian
85/2 1885 Australia The mongoose, however, is not required here. Our native and domestic cats are, if fully utilised, and not
handed over to the tender mercies of trappers, quite able to stop the rabbits spreading.
The Sydney Morning Herald
25.vii.1885: 8
85/3 1885 SA The burning question of the day for South Australia, not to mention the neighbouring colonies, is how to
get rid of the rabbit pest. Some are for encouraging the smaller beast of prey, which kill for killings sake
such as the mongoose, the stoat, the ferret, and the weasel.
The West Australian 5.ix.1885:
85/4 1885 Sydney, NSW Rats are very numerous in the building, for part of the Post Ofce is built upon the Old Tank Stream,
which is one of the main sewers of the city; but mongooses, ferrets and cats have been employed to kill
The Sydney Morning Herald
11.ix.1885: 7
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 217
Appendix 1. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
85/5 1885 Wentworth, NSW [S]ome mongoose liberated by squatters in the neighbourhood of Wentworth were invading the poultry
yards of Wentworth township and becoming a great plague.
South Australia Parliamentary
Debates 15.ix.1885: col.
85/6 1885 NSW The conference of delegates from the Sheep Boards, to consider the rabbit question ...Mr. HEBDEM
moved ...It had been suggested as advisable that the mongoose should be introduced, but this would be
an expensive matter, and hardly worth while considering when we had so many natural enemies in our
midst ...the resolution [to introduce native predators such as the native cat], amended as proposed,
was put to the meeting and carried unanimously.
The Sydney Morning Herald 3.
x.1885: 10
85/7 1885 Staughton Vale and Steiglitz,
The Minister for Lands has been furnished by an ofcer of the department with a report relative to the
effectiveness of cats and mongooses in destroying rabbits. An inspection was made of Mr. Armytages
property, Woolananata [near Lara], upon which cats and mongooses have been introduced, but with no
satisfactory results. The mongooses have either been caught by the trappers or have strayed long
distances away, some to Staughton Vale and others to the neighbourhood of Steiglitz ...The general
opinion prevails that neither cats nor mongooses will kill more rabbits than they can eat.
The Sydney Morning Herald
10.xii.1885: 10
85/8 1885 SA I note that the Hon. R. D. Ross said we should exercise great caution in introducing animals to destroy
rabbits, and instanced the mongoose in Jamaica as having had an unfortunate result. On the contrary, it
tends to show that however troublesome the mongoose might afterwards become he would in the rst
place destroy the rabbits; and the rabbit question has become such a terrible danger that one cannot
believe any possible increase of the mongoose would compare with it for a moment. If the mongoose
will really wipe out the rabbit, for Heavens sake let us have him, and after he has done his work his own
turn will come if he proves a nuisance. He will at worst be a eabite in comparison.
The Register [Adelaide]
16.xii.1885: 6
86/1 188385 South-west NSW Mongoose have been tried, but they have not given satisfaction. One gentleman turned a lot out on an
island, among some Rabbits, but they did not exterminate or keep them down. When not on an island,
the Mongoose is very liable to wander. They have been found, shortly after they were turned out 20 and
even 50 miles away, showing that they do not camp or feed quietly. Fencing wouldnot keep them within
bounds, as they can climb up anything, so that taking them all together, they are not a success.
Crommelin 1886: 33
87/1 1887 Western NSW Mr. David Chrystal, who is interested in large squattages in the Balranald and Wilcanniadistricts of New
South Wales ...In addition, he imported over 700 mongoose, costing over £700 ...(See 83/6, 87/3).
The Brisbane Courier
8.vii.1887: 5
87/2 1887 Editorial: even the mongoose, which came from India with an encouragingly murderous reputation, was
an utter failure[in exterminating rabbits].
The Argus 6.xii.1887: 7
87/3 1887 Western NSW For instance, when he (Mr. Abbott) was in power, one of the pastoral tenants (Mr. Chrystal), of Murulua
resolved to try as an experiment the introduction of the mongoose, for the destruction of rabbits. The
rabbit inspector was continually nding fault with that gentleman because the work of destruction was
not going on, but he (Mr. Abbott) gave instructions that Mr. Chrystal should get a fair chanceof proving
his experiment. However, he left ofce, and another Pharaoh arose who know not Joseph. (Laughter.)
The trappers were put on the run by the orders of the rabbit ofcers, and they regarded the mongoose and
the iguana as their enemies. The cats too were the enemy of the trappers, who were paid according to the
number of scalps they produced, and who desired not to see the rabbits destroyed by an agency other
than their own.
The Sydney Morning Herald
13.xii.1887: 4
87/4 1887 Western NSW It was true that Mr. Chrystal had imported the mongoose at a cost of over £1000. The inspectors soon
afterwards complained that the usual form of rabbit destruction was abandoned on his run. He (Mr.
[J. P.] Abbott [M. P.]) gave instructions that he was to be allowed to give the mongoose a fair trial. But
...the enemies of the mongoose-the rabbiters became the masters of the situation. Of course as soon as
the trappers got to work the mongoose was found in the traps as well as the rabbit ...The natural enemy
of the rabbit was the natural enemy of the rabbiter as well.(See 83/6, 87/1).
The Riverine Grazier
16.xii.1887: 2 (cited by
Rolls 1969)
218 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
88/1 ?1888 Teryawynia [Terawynne],
Darling River, NSW
28 mongoose let loose, but killed by rabbit trappers. The Australasian 3.iii.1888:
88/2 ?1888 Mulurulu station, ~100 miles
north of Balranald, NSW
500 mongoose from India released. They rapidly disappeared once the Government put in trappers. The Australasian 3.iii.1888:
89/1 ?1880s Riverina district, NSW Of the rabbits natural enemies, the only wild animal that has done any good in Australia as a rabbit-
destroyer is the mongoose. Mr. Wynne made an experiment with them on his station in the Riverina, and
the result was highly satisfactory. For some reason, never clearly explained, the Government of
[New South Wales]...caused the animals to be destroyed, at the same time compensating Mr. Wynne
for his loss.[Mr. Wynne owned Teryawynia (see record 88/1), however this wouldnt be considered to
be in the Riverina.]
The Australasian 26.x.1889:
91/1 1891 Sydney, NSW FOR SALE, Rabbit Exterminators, 6 imported tame Indian Mongooses. Steward, s.s. [steamship]
Culgoa, Central Wharf.
The Sydney Morning Herald
16.i.1891: 2
92/1 1892 Western NSW The natural enemies to the rabbits are the iguana [goanna], the native cat, the tiger cat, the ferret, the
mongoose, the carpet snake, and the stoat. They have nearly all had a hand in killing the rabbits in the
West, and it is, I think, a neable offence to kill any of these creatures.
The Brisbane Courier
8.x.1892: 6
94/1 1894 Vic. Letter sent to the Premier from England proposing the introduction and release of one sex only of the
The Argus 17.iii.1894: 9. The
Australasian 24.iii.1894:
00/1 1900 Australia The introduction of the mongoose into Australia to keep down the rabbit plague was an unhappy
experience, the farmers fowls, turkeys and even lambs disappearing like magic down the voracious
maw of the mongoose ...If introduced into Australia, in numbers, to kill rats, the mongoose would
develop into the greatest possible curse.
The Mercury 4.iii.1900: 5
01/1 1901 Sydney, NSW MONGOOSE, better than ferrets for killing rabbits. The Young Zoo. 208 George-St. North.The Sydney Morning Herald
9.i.1901: 11
02/1 1902 NSW A proclamation has been issued by his Excellency the Governor declaringthe iguana, native cat, tiger cat,
ferret, mongoose, and stoat to be natural enemies of the rabbit, and prohibiting the wilful wounding,
killing, or capturing, soiling, or disposing of any such animals within the State.
The Sydney Morning Herald
2.xii.1902: 4
03/1 1903 Yudnapinna, SA In addition Mr. W. T. Mortlock is having sent to South Australia several mongooses[from Ceylon*], in
the hope that they will prove of service by killing rabbits on his station [Yudnapinna*].** He [Hon.
A. Catt] asked Mr. Butler [Commissioner of Crown Lands] to enquire into the advisability of permitting
that to be done. The question had some years ago been discussed, and it was proved that the introduction
of the mongooses would result in greater annoyance than the rabbits at present caused.
*The Advertiser 28.ix.1903: 6.
The Advertiser 27.x.1903: 7.
** The Advertiser
30.x.1903: 4.
04/1 1904 Qld If we remember rightly, it was at one time proposed to introduce the snake-killing mongoose into
Queensland for the purpose of destroying rats in the caneelds. The proposal, fortunately, came to
(Anonymous 1904)
06/1 1906 NSW A letter was read from the Chief Inspector of Stock declaring that native and tiger cats, mongooses, and
ferrets were the natural enemies of the rabbit and that anyone killing the same was liable to prosecution.
The Sydney Morning Herald
13.i.1906: 7
07/1 1907 ?Murchison region, WA The Mongoose and Rabbits. Murchisonwrites: Can any of your readers inform me if Indian mongoose
are suitable for working the rabbit burrows, if so, the best means of obtaining three pairs or less, also
particulars of their habits. I hear they are procurable in Colombo, Ceylon. Can anyone let me know the
best way to get into correspondence with the dealers. I nd ferrets will not work well during the
summer months ... [Reply by the Agricultural Editor, W. C. Grasby] Dont! Dont!! Dont!!! The
The Western Mail
Indian mongoose (Herpestes griseus)[H. edwardsii: Wilson and Reeder 2005] is suitable for
destroying rabbits, also rats, snakes, lizards, boodies, and other small animals. So far so good; but it is
also equally suitable for destroying eggs and poultry, and for becoming a general nuisance. I would not
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 219
Appendix 1. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
like to say that it would not tackle new-born lambs. The mongoose was introduced into Jamaica to
destroy the rats in the sugarcane elds, and for a time the island rang with the praises of the sugar
planterssaviour. In a few years, however, the mongoose was an even more serious problem than the
rats, and I believe it is a problem today, although I have not read any accounts of it recently. I amunder
the impression that it was introduced into New Zealand to kill rabbits, and that the people there do not
speak in terms of praise of those who introduced it. The rabbit is a fearful pest, and natures natural
enemy method is good; but we in Australia should have learned by this time that introducing animals
from elsewhere is apt to be as dangerous as setting re to a house to drive out an intruding dog. 6
24/1 On the important subject of the control of rabbits Mr. Le Soeuf [Curator of the Zoological Gardens] said
that the introduction of weasels, mongoose, and stoats was continually advocated. There were very few
places in Australia where stoats or weasels could exist, and the mongoose did not kill rabbits.
The Sydney Morning Herald
22.iv.1924: 7
34/1 Undated Qld I am not suggesting that Lord Huntingeld had anything to do with the experiment but the animals appear
to have been sent from India about the time the present Governor of Victoria [Huntingeld] sent out a
batch of Indian doves. The idea was that they would combat a plague of rats on the caneelds. Only a
small number of the mongoose ... were let loose.
The Argus 5
35/1 1935 Among the many animals which, it has been suggested, it might be advantageous to bring in [for rabbit
control] have been Mongooses, Pole Cats, Skunks, Minks, Sables, Civet Cats, Lynxes, Jackals,
Coyotes, Meer Cats, etc. The Mongoose has so frequently been proposed that I feel that the Australian
public should be specially warned against its recurrence.
Stead (1935)
220 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
Appendix 2. Early records of mongoose in Australia related to imports for exhibition (in menageries, zoos, snake ghts), their use as pets, and for the control of snakes and domestic pests
In quotations, spelling and capitalisation are exactly as in the original. Abbreviations: NSW, New South Wales; Qld, Queensland; SA, South Australia; Vic., Victoria; WA, Western Australia; Tas., Tasmania
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
53/1 1853 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: one mongoose sought from ship captains and others. The Argus 15.iv.1853: 1
55/1 1855 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: one mongoose for sale. The Argus 23.i.1855: 8
59/1 1859 Melbourne, Vic. Letter to the editor advocating the value of mongosein ridding the countryof snakes (particularly
numerous this year in Victoria), based on the writers experience in India: we should endeavour by
every means in our power to introduce them.
The Argus 18.10.1859: 6
59/2 1859 Melbourne, Vic. On Thursday, the 1st of December, at 8 oclock p.m., it is proposed that the ichneumon should be
exhibited at the Mechanics Institute, under the patronage of members of the Philosophical Institute of
Victoria, with a view of displaying its feats, agility, and courage in attacking and despatching venomous
reptiles, with the express object of ascertaining and testing the desirability of introducing these animals
into this country. The ichneumon, commonly and better, however, known as the mongose, was
imported into this colony by Captain Layard (with several other useful animals), who has constantly
forced upon the public, through the medium of the Press, the great advantage that would accrue to this
country by their introduction as snake-killers; but up to this moment no one appears to have been
awakened to the revelations that were constantly being made on the subject, and now, as it where,
suddenly they become alive to a sense of their carelessness, and call for a display, in order that active
steps should be taken, provided they meet with the requirements of the country, with a view to their
immediate introduction.The advertisement for this event was rst published onp. 8 of this issue of The
Argus. Both mangostessubsequently killed the 2 snakes presented at the experiment.
The Argus 30.xi.1859: 5; 2.
xii.1859: 4; 5.xii.1859: 4
59/3 1859 Melbourne, Vic. Captain Layard exhibited 2 specimens of the mongoose to members of the Philosophical Institute before
the contest with snakes in the evening. Both animals are stated to be similar in appearance to the pair
recently to be seen in the Botanic Gardens. A later article mentions only one present in a cage in these
The Argus 1.xii.1859: 4;
17.xii.1859: 5
59/4 1859 Melbourne, Vic. Letter to the editor endorsing the value of tame mongosein India in keeping down the abundance of
snakes around houses, but questioning the utility of wild mongoose in controlling the numbers of
snakes in the Indian countryside.
The Argus 2.xii.1859: 7
59/5 1858 Melbourne, Vic. It is generally admitted that they [a pair of ichneumons] will not brood in captivity, the pair in the
possession of Captain Layard have been together for more than a year [actually 9 months], and have not
produced offspring.
The Argus 5.xii.1859: 4;
8.xii.1859: 3
59/6 1859 Melbourne, Vic. Letter to the editor from J. A. Layard, who has lived for nearly 25 years in Ceylon and the Eastern world,
and has closely observed the habits of mongose. He considers that snakes, rats and mice are preferred
to poultry. Subsequent letters debated the likely impact on poultry of introducing mongoose to Victoria.
The Argus 8.xii.1859: 3;
12.xii.1859: 1; 23.xii.1859:
59/7 1859 Melbourne, Vic. A second experiment took place on 3 December, resulting in 3 snakes being killed. The male mongoose
was evidently bitten and became unable to stand, but appears not to have died. [I]t is by no means
proved that they would be a valuable addition to our zoology.
The Argus 17.xii.1859: 2S
59/8 1859 Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW Advertisement: Mongoose at Watsons Bay Zoological Gardens.The Sydney Morning Herald
30.xii.1859: 1
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 221
Appendix 2. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
59/9 ~1859 Vic. Some twenty years ago there was great talk in Melbourne about introducing the Indian mongoose an
animal about the size of an opossum, and not unlike it in appearance, and domesticating it about our
houses, it being well known as a great snake-killer. I was present at a scientic experimental exhibition
of two that were specially imported. One mongoose was turned out rst, and then a large black snake let
out to him. In a second the little animal had pinned the snake by the middle, and although the snake
twisted around him and apparently bit him all over, yet it did him no harm, and in a couple of minutes
time he bolted with the snake in his mouth under the platform where he could eat it at leisure. As no
coaxing could again induce him to come out, the second mongoose was brought. He was treated
The Brisbane Courier
differently. The objection made to their introduction was that they were so fond of poultry, and
particularly eggs, that they would be a greater nuisance than the snakes themselves. So another black
snake and some eggs were put on the oor, and then the animal was turned out. He did not hesitate long,
but at once tackled the eggs, and bolted with one in his mouth. It was decided by our Southern savans
[sic] that it was not desirable to introduce this Indian animal.
5.iii.1879: 5
60/1 1860 Melbourne, Vic. One ichneumonkept in the menagerie at the Botanic Gardens. The Times 30.v.1860: 12
60/2 1860 Adelaide, SA Mr. Hampton Gleeson has lately brought from India one female and three male specimens of the Indian
ichneumon, commonly called the mangouste, or snake-killer. The pair has been presented to the
Botanic Gardens, and the two remaining males to Mr. Elliott, of the Globe Inn, Rundle-street ...It is
intended to give these little creatures an early opportunity of showing their skill upon some of the snakes
of Australia; and if they can succeed in killing them, it may be very desirable to introduce the breed into
the colony ...and they are such graceful creatures, that we fancy the ladies would see at least as much in
them as they can nd in cats to rear and fondle as parlour favourites.
The Adelaide Observer
21.vii.1860: 3b. The South
Australian Advertiser
18.vii.1860: 2
61/1 1861 Adelaide, SA On Saturday evening last, Joseph Shires, the snake hunter, exhibited his snakes at the Blenheim Hotel. He
has just returned from Wellington, whence he procured 17 snakes, all of which he exhibited. The
Mongousewas in attendance, but thinking discretion the better part of valor, he retired from the
combatmidst the groans and hisses of those assembled.
The South Australian
Advertiser 13.v.1861: 3
62/1 1862 Melbourne, Vic. Three mongoose listed as present in the zoo at Royal Park. The Argus 27.ii.1862: 5
62/2 1862 NSW Former resident of India suggests importation of snake-killing mongoose. States the mongoose is easily
domesticated, and evidences strong attachment for its master. It is very courageous. It must be
mentioned, however that our little serpent-killer is very destructive to poultry, especially in its (the
mongoose) wild state ...There appear to be twokinds of the mongoose-the large and small, very similar
in all other respects; the large kind seem the hardier.
The Sydney Morning Herald
5.ix.1862: 8
62/3 1862 Melbourne, Vic. One mongoose brought on the brig Carl, the last port of call being Batavia [Jakarta, Indonesia]. The Argus 3.xi.1862: 4. The
Herald [Melbourne]
3.xi.1862: [2] and 4. The
Mercury 6.xi.1862: 4
63/1 1863 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: Exhibition of newly arrived exotic animals, including two mongoose [?all species],
having been imported from India and purchased at considerable cost from G. Landells, Esq., to whom
the colony is indebted for the introduction of a variety of curious and useful animals.
The Argus 12.i.1863: 8;
15.i.1863: 4
63/2 1863 To Qld from Melbourne, Vic. It was eventually resolved- That the Secretary be requested to write to the Secretary of the
Acclimatisation Society in Melbourne ...and, on the motion of Mr. Rawnsley, another £5 was ordered
to be expended in procuring, through Mr. Landells, a few couples of the mongoose (or snake
The Courier [Brisbane]
4.ii.1863: 2
222 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
63/3 1863 Vic. The Secretary announced that the Victorian Society had offered to forward two male specimens of the
mongoose to the Queensland Society. Some of the members doubted the utility of importing two males;
and others asserted that the mongoose was anything but a desirable acquisition-in fact, that it might be
classed under the head of noxious animals;though it certainly destroyed snakes, it was still more
destructive to poultry.
The Courier [Brisbane]
9.iv.1863: 2
63/4 1863 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: one pair of mongoose for sale at an auction. The Argus 22.viii.1863: 2
63/5 1863 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: one pair of Egyptian mongoosefor sale. The Argus 24.viii.1863: 8
65/1 1865 Sri Lanka to Qld Colombo, 17th. January, 1865.Dear Sir,-I have received your letter of the 18th November, and shall, in
compliance with your instructions, take an early opportunity to procure for your Acclimatisation
Society. We have several varieties of mongoose, all of them valuable as serpent killers. They are very
hardy, and could be readily acclimatised with you. I have not known them to breed in connement, but
they would soon spread in their natural state wherever they were released in sufcient numbers.-Dear
Sir, I am, very truly yours,Charles Layard.
The Brisbane Courier
21.ii.1865: 3
67/1 1867 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: circus visit, with reference to the mongoose or Indian Snake-killer.The Argus 8
68/1 1868 Sydney, NSW For His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh: At the Museum Mr. Krefft then produced a case containing
some live snakes, and one of these was taken, out and placed on the oor; at the same time a mongoose
(ignuman), the property of Mr. Parkes, was liberated ... Another mongoose, a very tame one from
Timor, was set at liberty, and he amused himself by catching and killing several small frogs which Mr.
Krefft liberated.
The Sydney Morning Herald
15.ii.1868: 7
68/2 1868 Mervale, Five Dock, NSW I wish we could encouragethe breeding of the mongoose, and let them wild in the bush that abounds with
snakes. Mr. Parkess experiments, as reported in the Herald the other day, put to the proof the deadly
enmity between them [mongoose and snakes].
The Sydney Morning Herald
26.ii.1868: 3
68/3 1868 Sydney, NSW His Royal Highness [Duke of Edinburgh] also received from Mr. Parkes the mongouste which killed the
snakes at the Museum on the occasion of the Royal visit to that establishment. The little animal was as
docile and playful as a kitten.
The Sydney Morning Herald 7
69/1 1869 Sydney, NSW A mongoos(owned by H. Parkes) killed a snake put into its cage. The Argus 6.ii.1869: 1
69/2 1869 Qld As the mongoose at the Park is useless alone, I would recommend that it be exchanged for something
more suitable for the wants of the society. I believe the mongoose is highly thought of in Victoria by
some few Indian gentlemen for its rat and snake-killing proclivities, but as it is also fond of poultry,
andc., care would have to be exercised in setting it free. Keeping it in a cage, however, does not improve
its habits.
The Brisbane Courier
18.ii.1869: 2
69/3 1869 Melbourne, Vic. Two mongoose shown during a lecture on snake bite; these on Thursday night will have a ght with a
The Herald 13.iv.1869: [2]
69/4 1869 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: a ght between mongoose and live snakes in a plate glass pit, for a Shires benet. The Argus 10.v.1869: 8
69/5 1869 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: an exhibition including the mongoose.The Argus 8
69/6 1869 East Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: reward offered to the nder of a lost mongoose. The Argus 1
69/7 1869 Ultimo, Sydney, NSW FOUND, a MONGOOSE. Apply 82, Victoria-street, Ultimo.The Sydney Morning Herald
28.viii.1869: 8
70/1 1870 Rose Bay, Sydney, NSW FOR SALE, a tame MONGOOSE, will kill rats and snakes. 310, Palmer-st., off South Head Road.The Sydney Morning Herald 8
71/1 1871 Sydney, NSW FOR SALE, a MONGOOSE. Apply 382, Kent-Street, between Market and Druitt streets.The Sydney Morning Herald
1.iii.1871: 8
71/2 1871 Letter to editor from Calcutta, praising the ability of mongoose kept in houses in killing snakes: I would
suggest that the Government of Victoria should import as many of these animals as they could obtain,
and distribute them throughout the colony.
The Australasian
72/1 1872 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: visit by circus, including the mongoose that killed the great cobra di capella.The Argus 27.i.1872: 8
72/2 1872 Melbourne, Vic. One mongoose donated by Captain Anderson to the zoo. The Argus 15.iv.1872: 5
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 223
Appendix 2. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
73/1 1873 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: seeking 50 snakes and a man to manage them for a great Monghoore snake-ght;
Monghoores, wonderful snake-ghters...on view, Bourke Street.
The Argus 10.iv.1873: 1; 16.
iv.1873: 8
74/1 1874 Melbourne, Vic. Several specimens of mongoose landed on the ship Wimmera, arriving from Calcutta. The Argus 6.iii.1874: 5
75/1 1875 Sydney, NSW The sale of Manderss Royal Menagerie ... mongoose, £1 2s.The Sydney Morning Herald
21.ix.1875: 6
76/1 1876 Melbourne, Vic. A very large specimen of the mongoose landed from RMSS China, arriving via Suez. The Argus 18.ix.1876: 5
78/1 1878 Dunolly, Vic. A creature of a curious nature...entered a room in Rays Hotel, about nine oclock on Sunday night, and
in an endeavour to make an exit, considerably damaged the ornaments of the apartment, and somewhat
frightened the inmates of the hotel. The intruder is not unlike an opossum,but the head is much smaller,
and the nose sharp and pointed. The tail is about eighteen inches long, the latter half being white, and
ends in a very small point. From whence it came, and to whom it belongs, is a mystery, and various
conjectures have been raised in respect thereof, the most feasible being that it is a mongoose, and
escaped from Cooper and Baileys circus when here.
The Herald 29.viii.1878: [2]
81/1 1881 Brisbane, Qld Among the showswhich have been doing a good business in Brisbane lately, is the menagerie, whose
headquarters have been at the corner of Queen and Edward streets. The showalso comprises ve
Indian mongoose or snake-killers.
The Brisbane Courier
31.v.1881: 3
81/2 1881 Newtown, Sydney, NSW Mr. Halley Henderson, of Newtown, has (reports the Evening News) just returned from Melbourne,
bringing with him a pair of very rareand very valuable little animals-mongooses, or mongeese,...Mr.
Henderson was fortunate in getting the animals from a ship recently arrived from India, and he is
understood to have paid a high price for them. He was for a long time endeavouring to obtain a pair of
these animals.
The Maitland Mercury &
Hunter River General
Advertiser 6.viii.1881: 5s
81/3 1881 Hobart, Tas. In addition to those beasts which we have mentioned in a previous paragraph, there is a cage [in the
menagerie] of four mongoose, the great enemy of the snake.
The Mercury 29.x.1881: 2
82/1 1882 Sydney, NSW THE MONGOOSE AND THE COBRA DE CAPELLO be seen in the WINDOW of the ROYAL
FURNISHING ARCADE, together with an Account of the REMARKABLE FIGHT.
The Sydney Morning Herald
11.iv.1882: 11
82/2 1882 Sydney, NSW The following donations were presented to the Australian Museum during last month [May] ...
ichneumen or mongoose, Herpestes griseus, Mr. Asher.
The Sydney Morning Herald 3
82/3 1882 Sydney, NSW The following donations were received [by the Australian Museum] during the month of September:-
Mammals: A mongoose, presented by Messrs. Bradley, Newton, and Lamb.
The Sydney Morning Herald
14.x.1882: 8
83/1 1883 Sydney, NSW WANTED to Purchase, a MONGOOSE. T. W. Crawley, 15, Hunter-street.The Sydney Morning Herald
12.ii.1883: 2
83/2 1883 Vic. Pet mongooses have often been imported into Victoria, but no attempt to acclimatise the breed has so far
come under our notice.Noted that single specimens sometimes are on sale in the Eastern Market,
The Australasian 17.ii.1883:
83/3 1883 NSW H. Parkes had kept 12 in connement, some for several years, and found the mongoose a singularly
gentle, inoffensive creature; he had allowed it to run about his house, where it played with children, and
even with cats, in very inoffensive and harmless manner. He thought that it would be ineffectual for the
destruction of rabbits.
New South Wales
Parliamentary Debates
7.iii.1883: 821 (partly cited
by Rolls 1969)
83/4 1883 Vic. By the arrival of the Cassiope from Calcutta, the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria has received ...
from the Calcutta society ...nine specimens of the mongoose family. There were sixteen of these latter
shipped. The animals are all apparently in good order and condition.
The Brisbane Courier
14.iii.1883: 5
84/1 1884 Sydney, NSW LOST, a MONGOOSE, from 18 and 20, Loftus-street. Any person giving information, or returning the
same to the above address, will be rewarded.
The Sydney Morning Herald
16.i.1884: 16
84/2 1884 Qld Captain Burkitt has also on board [the Dacca] a mongoose, the snake-killer of India, an animal that has
become immensely popular in the adjoining colony, in consequence of its inherent and rooted antipathy
to rabbits.
The Brisbane Courier
17.iii.1884: 4
224 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
84/3 1884 Sydney, NSW FOR SALE, A Pair of MONGOOSE. Apply Mr. Hannington, 73 and 75 York-street.The Sydney Morning Herald
23.v.1884: 9
84/4 1884 Melbourne, Vic. Several mongoose landed for the zoo from the Noddleburn, arriving from Calcutta. Some 25 pairs of the
Indian mongoose were shipped on board...but several them died during the passage.
The Argus 28.iv.1884: 4, 5
84/5 1884 Sydney, NSW FOR SALE, 5 MONGOOSE. Apply G. Hannington, 73 and 75 York-street.The Sydney Morning Herald
25.iv.1884: 9
84/6 1884 Melbourne, Vic. Numerous letters to the editor contesting the extent to which mongoose kill poultry. The Argus 28.v.1884: 6; 30.
v.1884: 7; 6; 3; 3; 7.
vi.1884: 14; 18.vii.1884: 10
84/7 1884 Melbourne, Vic. Letter to the editor by J. C. Kiernander: The importation of the mongoose will decrease, for they in
Bengal at least are getting scarce, and the prohibitory freight charged on same, consequent on expense
and trouble in transport, will, I think, before long stop their importation. I have a very few, and shall be
glad to permit gentlemen to view same, between 9 and 10 a.m. daily.
The Argus 3
84/8 1884 NSW The following donations were made [to the Australian Museum] during the month of June:- ... a
mongoose, a pig-tailed monkey, the Zoological Society.
The Sydney Morning Herald
5.vii.1884: 9
84/9 1884 NSW The following donations were made [to the Australian Museum] during the month of September:- ...
mongoose, Zoological Society.
The Sydney Morning Herald
16.x.1884: 6
84/10 1884 Melbourne, Vic. Two cases of mongoose imported from Calcutta. The Argus 18.xii.1884: 4
86/1 1886 Adelaide, SA At the last meeting of the Zoological Society it was suggested that as the Indian mongoose had the
character of being a good snakekillers [sic] so it might be as useful in killing rabbits, which, as we all
know, overrun the country districts [nuisanceof mongoose introduced to Jamaica highlighted]. what
has become of one [mongoose] that was in the [Zoological] Garden.
The Register 28.viii.1886: 7
86/2 1886 Sydney, NSW ADVERTISER wishes to BUY Male and Female MONGOOSE. Reply, stating price, to Rats, Herald
The Sydney Morning Herald
2.iii.1886: 9
86/3 1886 Hillston, NSW The following is a list of donors and donations since the last monthly meeting Australian eagle and a
mongoose, John Phillips, Hillston.
The Sydney Morning Herald
4.xii.1886: 12
87/1 1887 Sydney A MONGOOSE for SALE, or will exchange for Fowls, Birds, andc.; splendid ratter and a good rabbitter.
Mr. Taylor, 5, Milton-terrace, Dawes Point.
The Sydney Morning Herald
24.ii.1887: 2
87/2 1887 Sydney FOR SALE, a MONGOOSE, very tame, cheap. John, Smarts Hotel, Pitt and Market streets.The Sydney Morning Herald
23.iii.1887: 11
87/3 1887 Sydney, NSW ...Indian Mongoose, Mandarin Ducks, andc., at Quelchs Bird Shop, corner Kent and Bathurst streets.The Sydney Morning Herald 21
87/4 1887 NSW The following are the donations to the Australian Museum for the month of November, 1887:- ... 1
stuffed mongoose, Mrs. Miller.
The Sydney Morning Herald
10.xii.1887: 10
88/1 1888 Melbourne, Vic. Advertisement: Shipment of foreign animals, newly arrived, offered for sale; included are mongoose. The Argus 9.ii.1888: 2
88/2 1888 Hobart, Tas. In addition to cargo [loaded at Calcutta] the [steamship] Tekapo has several animals comprising
monkeys, several specimens of the genus mongoose, and an Indian sheep.
The Mercury 28.viii.1888: 2
88/3 1888 Melbourne, Vic. 6 varietiesof mongoose imported from Cape Town for the zoo. The Argus 31.viii.1888: 7
90/1 1890 Sydney, NSW WANTED, two Mongoose, state price, and apply to John Barlow and Co., 756 George-street.The Sydney Morning Herald
7.iii.1890: 12
91/1 1891 Moore Park, Sydney, NSW Advertisement: mongoose at the Zoological Gardens. The Sydney Morning Herald
24.i.1891: 2
91/2 1891 Forest Lodge, Sydney, NSW FOR SALE.-A pair of pet MONGOOSE, male and female, very tame. Apply W. WIGG, 69 Mount
Vernon-street, Forest Lodge.
The Sydney Morning Herald
24.i.1891: 2
92/1 1892 Hobart, Tas. List of donations presented to the Tasmanian Museum during the months of January, February, and
March: ...1 Mongoose (Herpestes Griseus).
The Mercury 29.iii.1892: 3
(continued next page )
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 225
Appendix 2. (continued )
Record No. Year Locality Account Reference
92/2 ~1892 Vic? H. J. L. says there have been two references in Nature Notesto the introduction of the mongoose to
destroy rabbits. In his opinion it would be a calamity. About 40 years ago [~1892] my son, then a little
boy, told me there was a possum chasing the young ducks. I found it was a large mongoose,which had
just killed 10 ducklings, and was after the hen which had hatched them. One of them would kill a
houseful of fowls in a night, and I was convinced that what was thought to be a fox killing fowls at
Brighton last years was an escaped mongoose.
The Argus 21.x.1932: 5
93/1 1893 Australia The animal. perhaps best known in these days by its Indian name, mongoose. Some years since
mongooses were introduced into Jamaica for the purpose of destroying rats, which infested sugar
plantations; and they have since, in company with stoats, weasils [sic], and other vermin,been turned
down in Australia and New Zealand in the hope that they would destroy the rabbits which have become
such a terrible plague; but we doubt whether, in the latter case at least, the remedy will prove worse than
the disease.
The Brisbane Courier
20.ii.1893: 6
98/1 1898 South Perth, WA Advertisement: Snake-killing Indian Mongooseat the Zoological Gardens. The West Australian 9.xi.1898:
98/2 1898 Sydney, NSW via Adelaide,
steamer Argus, which arrived the other day at Adelaide on her way to Sydney from Calcutta ...[with]
The Sydney Morning Herald
29.xii.1898: 4
99/1 1899 Melbourne, Vic. Four mongoose imported for the zoo, but quarantined by the Board of Public Health because of fears of
infection with bubonic plague.
The Argus 2.i.1899: 5
99/2 1899 Fremantle, WA Yesterday there arrived at Fremantle onboard the s.s. Karrakatta, from Singapore, a valuable collection of
animals obtained by Mr. Le Souef, the Director of the Zoological Gardens. Two mongoose of the snake-
killing variety are also included in the collection. They are perfectly tame and can be fondled without
harm by children.
The West Australian
26.x.1899: 4
99/3 1899 South Perth, WA One ichneumon present in the collection of the Zoological Gardens as of 30.6.1899. Acclimatisation Committee
(1899): 6
00/1 1900 NSW? After the outcome of their introduction to Jamaica, concludes: Care would therefore have to be taken in
the use of them [mongoose, to control rats], so as to prevent their spreading over the country.
The Sydney Morning Herald
9.v.1900: 8
00/2 1900, 190001 South Perth, WA Grey Ichneumon or Mongoose (Herpestes griseus), Indialisted as present in the collection of the
Zoological Gardens.
Acclimatisation Committee
(1900: 6); Acclimatisation
Committee (1902:7)
02/1 190203 South Perth, WA One mongoose presented to the Zoological Gardens (from a person in Perth). Acclimatisation Committee
05/1 1905 Melbourne or Sydney The steamer Gracchus, which arrived from Calcutta this morning, has on board for the Melbourne Zoo
and for Sydney ... one mongoose.
The Advertiser 3.iii.1905: 7
05/2 1905 Riddells Creek, Vic. [?near
Mt Macedon]
One mongoose caught in a rabbit trap. It had killed 2 ducks, a sitting hen, and 4 chickens. It had sucked the
blood and had not eaten any esh.
The Argus 17.iii.1905: 7
06/1 1906 Adelaide, SA The [Zoological] gardens during the year gained ... by purchases or gifts ... mongoose.The Advertiser 27.vii.1906: 9
07/1 1907 Sydney, NSW REWARD.-LOST, from Winchcombe, Carson, and Co.s store at Bridge-street, on the 9th instant, 3
(three) INDIAN MONGOOSE. Apply above address.
The Sydney Morning Herald
13.iii.1907: 3
07/2 1907 Adelaide, SA Mongooses arrive next week for J. Malone, Young Zoo, Central Market. Inspection invited.The Advertiser 31.viii.1907: 5
08/1 1908 Adelaide, SA A TRAINED Mongoose for Sale ... McMillan, Central Market.The Advertiser 1618.i.1908:
12, 10 and 5
08/2 1908 Adelaide, SA Mongooses ...At Malones, Young Zoo, Central Market; trial solicited.The Advertiser 4.vii.1908: 5
09/1 1909 Adelaide, SA A mongoose on show at 102 Hindley Street. The Advertiser 5.iv.1909: 10
09/2 1909 Melbourne, Vic. A boxer arrived by train from Adelaide for a match in Melbourne carrying a mongoose under one arm.The Argus 10.xi.1909: 10
09/3 1909 Adelaide, SA Just arrived ... Indian Mongooses ... At Malones, Young Zoo, Central Market.The Advertiser 11.ix.1909: 8
226 Australian Journal of Zoology D. Peacock and I. Abbott
10/1 1910 Adelaide, SA The Zoological Gardens has within the last few days added to its already large collection the following
animals and birds ... one pair of mongoose.
The Advertiser 14.iii.1910: 6;
30.viii.1910: 5
10/2 1910 Sydney, NSW Mongoose advertised for sale by W. Puxley, Q.V. [Queen Victoria] Markets.Advertisements till
30.7.1910: 17.
The Sydney Morning Herald 22
16/1 1916 Mosman, Sydney, NSW several species of [African] mongooseat Taronga Zoo. The Sydney Morning Herald
10.ii.1916: 10
16/2 1916 Adelaide, SA As the result of poultry farmerscomplaints of ravages among chickens the Agricultural Department is
being asked to proclaim the Indian mongoose under the Australian Birdsand AnimalsAct. Some
mongooses introduced in the metropolitan area [to controlrats?] have been breeding prolically.In The
Sydney Morning Herald 10.7.1916: 5 this account is reproduced but erroneously stated as Perth, WA.
The Advertiser 8.vii.1916: 18
18/1 1918 Adelaide? Several mongoosebred at the Zoological Gardens. The Advertiser 10.ix.1918: 9
19/1 1919 Victoria? Wanted, to Buy ferret or mongoose; state price. Address Ich. Neumon, Argus ofce.The Argus 9.ix.1919: 7
25/1 1925 Melbourne, Vic. An exceptionally fast passage from Sydney was made by the Royal Packet steamer Houtman, which
reached Melbourne yesterday from Java and Singapore. On the Houtman was a young crocodile and
two mongooses consigned to the Melbourne Zoological Gardens.
The Argus 7.v.1925: 15
42/1 1942 Australian ports A return issued by the Director-General of Health (Dr J. H. L. Cumpston) reveals that 30 dogs, 23
monkeys, three squirrels, a mongoose and a rabbit, accompanying returning Australian troops, had
been destroyed to prevent the entry of rabies into the country.
The Canberra Times 1.v.1942:
Failed introductions of mongoose to Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 227
... However, negative interactions may exist also among introduced taxa, which has motivated the control of pest species through further species introductions (Messelink et al., 2008;Peacock & Abbott, 2010). Such attempts at biological control are limited by our inability to predict ecosystem-wide impacts of introduced species (Simberloff & Stiling, 1996). ...
Full-text available
Identifying where introduced animals fit in a food web relative to each other and to endemic species is key for biodiversity conservation planning. Using a multiproxy study of dog feces from eastern Madagascar, we infer that even dogs that spend time in derived grasslands typically eat forest‐derived foods. Regardless of the time that dogs spend in cleared forest, their impacts are likely concentrated on forest‐dwelling prey. If dogs in forests mostly consume threatened endemic animals (and not other introduced animals such as rats), then the exclusion of dogs from protected forests should be a priority. Introduced predators on islands can help control invasive species yet can also contribute to the extirpation and extinction of endemic taxa. The spread of dogs on Madagascar by ~1000 years ago coincided with the introduction of livestock and spread of grazer‐adapted grasslands, and we help evaluate the extent to which modern dogs are part of novel grassland food webs. To infer dog diet, we identified food remains, where possible, and conducted stable isotope ratio analysis for n = 100 modern dog feces collected in derived grassland at varying distances from protected forest edges around Analamazoatra and Andasibe‐Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar. Animal remains in feces and the observed range of fecal δ15N values are consistent with dog meals at multiple trophic levels. However, the observed distribution of fecal δ13C values suggest that few dogs in the study area consumed food derived from open C4 grasslands. Existing data suggest that dogs rely primarily on C3 consumers inhabiting forest biomes (forest‐dwelling animals) for their prey, which may include endemics such as tenrecs, Malagasy rodents, and lemurs and introduced rodents such as rats. These findings indicate that dogs are not confined to the anthropogenic niche defined by grazer‐adapted grasslands, but rather use and impact animal food resources associated with protected forests. Higher resolution study of dog diet and mobility can further clarify the potential for dogs to exploit endemic prey, compete with endemic predators, and spread disease across ecotones. L'identification de la place des animaux introduits dans la chaine alimentaire les uns par rapport aux autres et aux espèces endémiques est essentielle pour la planification de la conservation de la biodiversité. En utilisant une étude multiproxy sur les excréments de chiens de l'est de Madagascar, nous en déduisons que même les chiens qui passent du temps dans les prairies dérivées mangent généralement des aliments dérivés de la forêt. Quel que soit le temps que les chiens passent dans la forêt défrichée, leurs impacts sont probablement concentrés sur les proies vivant dans la forêt. Si la majeure partie de l'alimentation des chiens dans les forêts provient d'animaux endémiques menacés (et non d'autres animaux introduits tels que les rats), l'exclusion des chiens des forêts protégées devrait être une priorité. Ny fahalalana manokana mahakasika ny anjara toerana sy fifampiakinany ireo biby samy tsy zanatany sy ireo zanatany eo amin'ny famatsiana sakafo dia tena zava‐dehibe tokoa eo amin'ny fahafahana miaro sy mametraka drafitra ho fiarovana azy ireo sy ny tontolo manodidina azy. Ny fampiasana ny atotam‐pahalalana sy hevitra mahakasika tain'alika any amin'ny ilany atsinanan'i nosy Madagasika, dia ahafahana milaza fa na dia ny alika izay monina eny aminy toerana tsy misy ala aza dia mihinana sakafo vokatra mivatana na akolana avy aminy ala. Na dia eo azy ny fotoana lanin'ny alika (mikarenjy) eny amin'ny toerana tsy misy ala. Ny trindry dia vinavinaina fa mianjerana amin'ny ireo biby fihaza miankina sy miaina ao anaty ala Raha mifototra aminy biby zanatany izay efa ho lany tamingana monina ao anaty ala mantsy ny ankamaroan'ny sakafon'alika, fa tsy amin'ireo biby tsy zanatany natsofoka teo aminy nosy toy ny voalavo, noho izany dia tena laharam‐pahamehana ary tsy azo iodivirana ny fanalana tanteraka ny alika aminy ireny ala voaharo ireny. Identifying where introduced animals fit in a food web relative to each other and to endemic species is key for biodiversity conservation planning. Using a multiproxy study of dog feces from eastern Madagascar, we infer that even dogs that spend time in derived grasslands typically eat forest‐derived foods. Regardless of the time that dogs spend in cleared forest, their impacts are likely concentrated on forest‐dwelling prey. If dogs in forests mostly consume threatened endemic animals (and not other introduced animals such as rats), then the exclusion of dogs from protected forests should be a priority.
... Even in 1886, a Casterton resident thought it was ridiculous to even think of introducing stoats, mongeese and weasels to prey on Rabbits (Venator 1887). Nevertheless, over 1000 mongeese were indeed released in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to control Rabbits, mainly in 1883 and 1884 (Peacock and Abbott 2010). Fortunately, the releases were unsuccessful. ...
... For example, at least 1000 mongooses Herpestes spp. were released at 14 locations in south-eastern Australia between 1855 and 1883, primarily to help control European Rabbits (Peacock and Abbott 2010). Failure of mongooses to establish may have been due to their destruction by 'rabbiters' who made a living from trapping European Rabbits, or it may have been a poor climate match. ...
Full-text available
Australia has a long history of exotic species' introductions, naturalisation and spread, and facilitated range expansions of native species. Together with broadscale landscape modification, this has resulted in an unprecedented number of pest species across a broad range of taxonomic groups (e.g. vertebrate and invertebrate animals, plants, algae and fungi), with impacts on native species, biodiversity, ecosystem function, the economy and human health. Overgrazing and browsing by introduced herbivores contributes to land degredation. Grazing, predation, and competition by exotic vertebrates threaten many endangered species and communities. Feral predators (i.e. Feral Cat Felis catus and Europena Red Fox Vulpes vulpes) are implicated as key contributors to Australia's endemic mammal extinctions. Weeds affect the structure and function of many ecosystems, displace native plant and animal species, harbour pests and diseases, and alter fire regimes. In this paper, we review the history of Australia's pest animals (vertebrates) and weeds, including the reasons for introductions, factors leading to both exotic and native species being pests, and the consequences for Australia's environment and biodiversity.
... Nonetheless, in an increasingly risk-averse world, biological control faces growing regulatory and risk perception hurdles, even though successful biological control is relatively cheap compared to conventional mechanical and chemical control, and it is sustainable. Using highly host-specific agents to control invasive alien plants is also in stark contrast [2][3][4]5 ] to historic unregulated use of generalist vertebrate predators or herbivores in misguided attempts to control pests or undesirable vegetation [6][7][8]. Yet the term 'biological control' dates from these early activities and so is often perceived as extremely risky [9]. One way to overcome these misconceptions is to clearly describe the mandatory, internationally accepted screening protocols, and to rigorously assess the risks before the release of any biological control agent [1]. ...
Invasive alien plants reduce ecosystem service delivery, resulting in environmental, economic and social costs. Here we review the returns on investment from biological control of alien plants that invade natural ecosystems. Quantifying the economic benefits of biological control requires estimates of the reductions in ecosystem goods and services arising from invasion. It also requires post-release monitoring to assess whether biological control can restore them, and conversion of these estimates to monetary values, which has seldom been done. Past studies, mainly from Australia and South Africa, indicate that biological control delivers positive and substantial returns on investment, with benefit:cost ratios ranging from 8:1 to over 3000:1. Recent studies are rare, but they confirm that successful biological control delivers attractive returns on investment, which increase over time as the value of avoided impacts accumulates.
... promising method to achieve this (Fenner and Ratcliffe 1965). Other forms of biocontrol were also contemplated (and some implemented) including the release of cats (successfully) and mongoose (unsuccessfully) into the bush in Australia (Rolls 1969;Peacock and Abbott 2010), and the release of mustelids in New Zealand, which precipitated a suite of other problems (Dowding and Murphy 2001;Parkes and Murphy 2003). Various diseases and parasites were suggested and evaluated as control agents, but none appeared suitable for the task until the appearance of myxomatosis. ...
The viral biocontrol agents Myxoma virus (MYXV) and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1), released in 1950 and 1996 respectively, are the only control tools to have resulted in significant and lasting landscape-scale suppression of rabbit populations in Australia. Multiple conservation benefits and significant economic savings have resulted from the long-term and widespread reductions in rabbit numbers and impacts. In an effort to ‘boost’ rabbit biocontrol, an additional variant of RHDV1 ('K5') was recently released nationwide to counteract the decreasing effectiveness of both RHDV1 and MYXV that results from the evolutionary ‘arms race’ between viruses and their hosts. Two years prior to the K5 release, an exotic RHDV strain (RHDV2) appeared in Australia. The commercially available vaccine used to protect pet and farmed rabbits against the officially released K5 was ineffective against the exotic RHDV2, resulting in numerous deaths of domestic rabbits. This created substantial confusion about which strain was released as a biocontrol tool, as well as renewed concerns amongst pet rabbit owners and rabbit farmers about the use of viruses as lethal rabbit control tools in general. Ongoing effective control of wild rabbits in Australia is absolutely essential to protect the substantial conservation gains made by the long-term suppression of rabbit numbers over the past decades, and there is currently no alternative population control tool to achieve this at the required landscape scale. Vaccine formulations need updating to protect non-target farmed and pet rabbits from circulating field variants, including RHDV2, and to increase public acceptance for the ongoing use of viral biocontrol for feral rabbit populations.
... Swingle) [5] and beach vitex (Vitex rotundifolia L. f.) [6]. In some cases, invasive species were introduced in an attempt to control other invasive species-for example, several species of mongoose [7]. On the other hand, some species are imported to different places intentionally, but released by mistake-these include Caulerpa taxifolia (M. ...
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Non-native invasive species frequently appear in urban and non-urban ecosystems and may become a threat to biodiversity. Some of these newcomers are introduced accidentally, and others are introduced through a sequence of events caused by conscious human decisions. Involving the general public in biodiversity preservation activities could prevent the negative consequences of these actions. Accurate and reliable data collecting is the first step in invasive species management, and citizen science can be a useful tool to collect data and engage the public in science. We present a case study of biological recording of tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle) using a participatory citizen model. The first goal in this case study was to develop a cheap, widely accessible, and effective inventory method, and to test it by mapping tree of heaven in Croatia. A total of 90.61 km of roads and trails was mapped; 20 single plants and 19 multi-plant clusters (mapped as polygons) were detected. The total infested area was 2610 m². The second goal was to educate citizens and raise awareness of this invasive species. The developed tool and suggested approach aided in improving invasive risk management in accordance with citizen science principles and can be applied to other species or areas.
... In southern Europe, there is a widespread conviction that helicopters drop boxes containing red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), vipers and/or small mammals (Campion-Vincent 1990b; Bruno and Maugeri 1992;Viñuela et al. 2010). Similarly, there are rumours about introductions of wild species, such as foxes, mongooses, rabbits, deer or fish in Australia and New Zealand (Low 2003;Peacock and Abbot 2010;Sarre et al. 2012;Blackman et al. 2013). ...
Rumours associated with wildlife are frequent, although they have received little attention in the scientific literature. Studying rumours is important because of their relevance not only in a broad theoretical sense but also in environmental management. The goal of this study is to explore the complexity of the relationships between humans and wildlife through a thematic analysis of rumours associated with allegedly introduced European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) that cause crop damage in Spain. For this purpose, potential rumours were identified using the Google search engine. Data analysis consisted of reading and re-reading Web-based texts to identify main themes, ideas and topics with the assistance of NVivo 10 software. The analysis identified three main themes: (1) the reviewed websites referred to allegedly introduced rabbits which differed from native rabbits; (2) differences were based on alleged observations of unnatural behaviour, physiology or physical appearance of introduced rabbits; (3) rumours were frequently used in the context of the rabbit management conflict; e.g. farmers accused hunters of releasing harmful rabbits. This study suggests that the analysis of wildlife-release rumours sheds light on the position of parties involved in conflicts associated with the (alleged) introduction of wildlife species. It stresses the importance of rumours in conservation and environmental management, and opens the door to future research.
Successful species introductions are not homogeneously distributed over the globe, which points to the need to understand why some have succeeded, yet others failed. We summarized information on small carnivore introductions worldwide and assessed whether introduction outcomes (success or failure) supported one or more of the following hypotheses: climate‐matching, propagule pressure, inherent superiority, island susceptibility and Darwin's naturalization hypotheses. Using the literature, we summarized: number of individuals released, mean body size, mean litter size, consumer type, latitude difference, ecoregions difference, congener presence, and mainland or island release. We generated generalized linear models and ranked them using Akaike's Information Criterion and Akaike's weights. We identified 253 documented introduction events of 24 species from five families, with two thirds of them involving the northern raccoon, Procyon lotor , the American mink, Neovison vison , and the small Indian mongoose, Urva [= Herpestes] auropunctata . Overall introduction success was high, with a success rate > 70% for four of the five represented families. We found support for climate‐matching, inherent superiority, and Darwin's naturalization hypotheses. Likelihood of success increased with matching climatic conditions that allow survival, a greater body size together with smaller litter size, a carnivorous diet, and the absence of congeners in the area of introduction. Islands were not more susceptible than the mainland, and the number of individuals introduced did not influence success. As biological invasions become increasingly widespread, understanding the biological and environmental factors affecting introduction success is important for conservation and management.
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The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) is a diurnal opportunistic omnivore native to parts of the Middle East, India, and Asia (Corbet and Hill 1992; Lekagul and McNeely 1977; Veron et al. 2007). Much of what is known about the species comes from records of populations where they were introduced to control rodents on sugarcane plantations (predominantly the Caribbean Islands and Hawaii) rather than their native range (Horst et al. 2001). In published research, the introduced mongoose is alternately, and often synonymously, identied as H. auropunctatus or H. javanicus. However, research by Veron et al. (2007) suggests that H. auropunctatus and H. javanicus are distinct taxa with unique biogeographic ranges: H. auropunctatus from the Middle East to Myanmar and H. javanicus from Myanmar and east, throughout Southeast Asia. Myanmar represents the eastern and western limits of H. auropunctatus and H. javanicus, respectively (Veron et al. 2007). Given documentation by Espeut (1882) that the mongoose’s introduced to the Caribbean, and later Hawaii, originated from Calcutta, India, it is now generally accepted that the mongoose species introduced to North America is H. auropunctatus.
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Humans have always and everywhere made or done something on or with “nature”. But the questions aren’t the same everywhere and consequently the resulting decision-making process may follow entirely divergent paths. The undertakings of introduced or re-introduced species have multiplied though their success has never been guaranteed. Examining these undertakings closely, we discover that they are as much combinations of people’s recipes, techno-science formulas as well as those surprises that living beings have always been full of. In this paper, we support this idea by following trajectories of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) towards Australia or New-Zealand. We study the many ways these have crossed other ways of starting a relationship with non-humans on the one hand, and applied ecology on the other hand, which had just been discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. Several controversies have followed one after another since then. These can be described as crises or moments to blot out. For us, these controversies essentially represent ways of revealing a reestablishment of order. There are no clear categories and no obvious balance in these case histories. Only living beings which meet, transform, overlap and shirk each other.
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South-west Western Australia is an area with a high number of conservation listed marsupials (Maxwell et al. 1996). The presence of Gastrolobium (Fabaceae: Mirbelieae) plants, toxic to introduced species because of their production of fluoroacetate, is considered a significant contributory factor to the survival of mammal biodiversity within this region. One benefit attributed to these toxic plants is buffering the predatory impact of introduced carnivores, with native fauna becoming toxic to predators from feeding on the plants. This study supports the existence of this phenomenon and reports accounts from historical literature and from interviews with early rural residents of the region being: Twenty-six historical accounts of the poisoning of domestic cats ( Felis catus ) and dogs ( Canis lupus familiaris ) through consumption of the bones (n=11) and/or remains of bronzewing pigeons ( Phaps chalcoptera and P. elegans ). A further nineteen accounts were of poisoning arising from the remains of marsupial species such as the brush-tailed possum ( Trichosurus vulpecula ) and boodie ( Bettongia lesueur ) and thirteen accounts of poisoning from remains of Gastrolobium poisoned sheep. Where recorded, toxicity is attributed to consumption of Gastrolobium plant material by the native species. These accounts are discussed in light of their contribution to the survival of critical weight range native fauna in these habitats. The reports indicate that increased emphasis on the maintenance and restoration of Gastrolobium plants and thickets through appropriate fire regimes is likely to aid survival of native fauna through improved shelter, food supply and secondary poisoning of introduced predators. Further research is warranted to confirm toxicity of native animals to introduced predators in remnant Gastrolobium habitat, and to monitor introduced predator survival.
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In addition to its known former presence in Melbourne and Ballarat, in Victoria, the presence of the Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis in Adelaide, South Australia from 1917 to about 1922 is detailed. Founder animals were likely sourced from the Melbourne population, with the Adelaide Grey Squirrel population subsequently arising from escapes from the zoological gardens, or animals privately sourced from Toorak, Victoria. Relatively prompt action by Government to control the Squirrels saw a bounty offered and the apparent main population controlled by Adelaide City Council staff. The Squirrels, restricted to urban plantings of northern hemisphere trees, were subsequently eradicated and were last recorded in 1922. It is unknown what contribution either control method contributed to the eventual eradication of this introduced species. The successful eradication of the Grey Squirrel from Adelaide provides an additional international vertebrate pest eradication record to further our understanding of achieving success in this difficult but valuable pest management goal.
This paper, an integration of history, ecology and zoogeography, is based on a comprehensive search for firsthand (eyewitness) information from navigators' and explorers' journals (1658-1875), colonists' accounts (1829-1889) and later settlers' records and oldtimers' recollections (1890-2006). Pertinent data for 37 conspicuous vertebrate species (10 bird, 26 mammal and 1 snake species) were collated, analysed, and integrated with more recent scientific information. Much of the information discovered in colonial records and obtained from interviews with oldtimers has been neglected by zoologists and ecologists. The original distributional limits of many of the species studied were thus clarified and redetermined. Detailed information is also provided on the history of the introduction of 14 mammal species into south-west WA, in order to assess their potential contribution to the extinction of native vertebrate species. The introduction, spread and density in bushland of commensal and livestock species does not correlate with the chronology of declines of native species. Changes in geographical distrbution of species were assessed against an interpretive framework of 29 factors, and based on this analysis, a conceptual model (termed the 'fusion' model) of mammal declines and extinctions in south-west and adjacent parts of WA since European settlement is proposed. The reconstructed sequence of events commenced in the 1880s, with declines being caused by disease (10 species estimated to have become totally extinct in WA and 8 species abruptly reduced in abundance and distribution). Another 12 species subsequently reached near-extinction status, following establishment of the fox in the 1920s. Trapping of some species for their fur and accidental poisoning by rabbit baits contributed to local extinctions but were not finally decisive factors. The conceptual framework adopted, based on detailed examination of the information discovered, recognizes three tiers of relevant factors. Only one or two main factors operate at one time, with some of the remaining factors acting in a subsidiary way, and sometimes concurrently or sequentially. Dominant factors are not necessarily the same for each species. Factors usually affected species adversely. South-west WA, despite being settled by Europeans earlier than most other parts of Australia, experienced a stagnant economy, slow population growth and hence minimal clearance of the original vegetation until the 1890s. The anthropogenic factors identified as significant in the decline and depletion of the native fauna, together with an understanding of their correct sequence of operation, provide a historically appropriate conceptual model that may be applicable elsewhere in Australia. The baseline data and historical accounts provide a resource for specialists working on particular species, and include much new material relating to the pelt industry and pest control activities.
We conducted comparisons for exotic mammal species introduced to New Zealand (28 successful, 4 failed), Australia (24, 17) and Britain (15, 16). Modelling of variables associated with establishment success was constrained by small sample sizes and phylogenetic dependence, so our results should be interpreted with caution. Successful species were subject to more release events, had higher climate matches between their overseas geographic range and their country of introduction, had larger overseas geographic range sizes and were more likely to have established an exotic population elsewhere than was the case for failed species. Of the mammals introduced to New Zealand, successful species also had larger areas of suitable habitat than did failed species. Our findings may guide risk assessments for the import of live mammals to reduce the rate new species establish in the wild.
A comprehensive search of historical sources found no evidence that the cat, Felis catus, was present on mainland Australia prior to settlement by Europeans. Nor were records of cats found in journals of expeditions of exploration beyond settled areas, undertaken in the period 1788–1883. Cats did not occupy Australia from the earliest point of entry (Sydney, 1788), but instead diffused and were spread from multiple coastal introductions in the period 1824–86. By 1890 nearly all of the continent had been colonised. This new chronology for the feline colonisation of Australia necessitates a re-appraisal of the early impact of the cat on native mammal and bird species. The evidence for early impacts of cats causing major and widespread declines in native fauna is considered tenuous and unconvincing.