This was a first: every time we have spotted a wild animal or bird in the valley we have told Pablo who says ‘Yes, I’ve seen thousands of those.’ But when we told him about our latest sighting, he was dumbfounded. He has never seen an Egyptian Mongoose, or meloncillo as the Spanish know it.Not native to Spain, the mongoose was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula during the Arab occupation 711 AD through 1492 AD. It is thought the moors introduced the mongoose, and probably the genet cat too, to hunt rats. The mongoose certainly eats snakes. It is a meat-eater – rodents, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects – as well as fruit and eggs. To crack open an egg, the mongoose throws it between its legs against a rock or wall.
One explanation for the fact that we’ve lived here all this time and have never seen one before, is that they are largely nocturnal. We saw two pups which disappeared rapidly into a bank of romero. They were spotted only once, and it is likely they are living in a rabbit warren.
Watch a meloncillo at You Tube.
‘Collins Photoguide: Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ [UK: Collins]
5 to remember
la Península Ibérica – the Iberian Peninsula
nocturno – nocturnal
un carnívoro – a meat-eater
es probable que – it is likely that
un conejo warren – a rabbit warren