Mongooses are small, bold, predatory carnivores noted for their audacious attacks on highly poisonous snakes such as king cobras. They are short-legged with pointed noses, small ears, and long, furry tails. The claws are nonretractile, and in most species there are five toes on each foot. The fur is gray to brown and is commonly grizzled or flecked with lighter gray. Markings, when present, include stripes, dark legs, and pale or ringed tails. Mongooses live in burrows and feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles, eggs, and occasionally fruit. The Indian gray mongoose was originally introduced in Okinawa in 1910. Originally intended to help control rodents and snakes, this introduction was disastrous, because the mongooses severely depleted the populations of native fauna. Because of the potential destructiveness of the animals, importation of all mongooses into the United States is strictly regulated.
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