How has the introduction of the small Indian mongoose impacted Caribbean islands?

The small Indian mongoose is also known as Herpestes auropunctatus. It is an invasive species that has plagued the Caribbean islands since its introduction in the late 19th century to early 20th century. It is native to Asia and has been introduced to 64 islands (Caribbean, Adriatic Sea, Pacific, and Indian Oceans) and the mainland (Australia, North and South America, Europe). The mongoose was introduced with the purpose of controlling rats in sugarcane fields and poisonous snakes like the fer-de-lance (Bothrops lanceolatus) on Martinique and St. Lucia, B. caribaeus in the West Indies, he horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) on Adriatic islands and a pit viper, the habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis), on several islands in Japan.

Due to climate change, this invasive species can spread as the climate gets warmer. This could be fatal for humans as this mongoose is a known carrier for rabies which has been known to kill humans.

The small Indian mongoose can ingest a wide range of food and has a high reproductive potential. The mongoose has been eradicated from six islands by secondary poisoning and trapping. This invasive species has impacted biodiversity on most islands by competing with native species for food sources and preying on other vulnerable species like birds, reptiles, and other invertebrates.

The small Indian mongoose was successfully eradicated from two islands (Codrington and Green Island) off Antigua. In St. Lucia, two experimental removal traps were conducted using chicken bait at an iguana nesting site.  A bounty system was once used in Trinidad, which stopped after 1930. Presently, more eradication methods are needed with the aim of preventing further introductions. Many islands have conducted localized control until eradication methods are further developed. The mongoose is present on 33 islands in the Caribbean.

Read more about the small Indian mongoose on these website links below! – PLOS Journals – CABI Invasive Species Compendium – A review of small Indian mongoose management and eradications on islands (ISSG)