Special Sub-Topic: "The Jungle Book" Pt.5
|This is a tale of the struggle between a mongoose, called Rikki-tikki-tavi, and the snakes that he encounters on his adventures. What was the reason that Rikki-tikki-tavi had to leave his home and his parents at the start of the story?|
High summer flood. Rikki was living in a burrow at the start of the story with his mother and father. A flood, during the summer, carried him into a roadside ditch. Clinging on for dear life to a wisp of grass he passed out. He regained consciousness on the middle of a path in a garden being looked upon by a small boy who thought he was dead and wished to hold a funeral. Luckily for Rikki, the boys mother did not think the small mongoose was dead and rescued him from the morbid attentions of the boy.
|Rikki-tikki-tavi, the mongoose, is found by an English family and ends up living at a bungalow owned by the white family. Where, in India, is the bungalow located?|
Segowlee Cantonment. Segowlee (Sugauli) is to be found in Bihar province in India. The cantonment was a British military base in northern India located between the cities of Calcutta and Varanasi.
The other answers are major cities in India.
|A mongoose, according to Rudyard Kipling, lives by one creed above all others. What is this creed that governs the life of a mongoose?|
"Run and find out". Kipling describes a mongoose as being "rather like a little cat in his fur and tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits". The mongoose is a naturally inquisitive animal and an instinctive snake killer. As well as snakes a mongoose will prey on rats, lizards, birds, insects, eggs and fruit.
Kipling also says, "It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity."
Interestingly, as a small piece of trivia, the mongoose is related to the meerkat.
|Rikki-tikki-tavi, the mongoose, meets two cobras in the garden of the bungalow belonging to the white family. Of the two cobras the female is the more devious and dangerous. What is the name of this devious female cobra?|
Nagaina. As is true in many species within the animal kingdom the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
OK now for the answers. Chuchundra is a muskrat in the story who always has some advice in how to fight the cobras but who is afraid to move to the centre of any room he has entered and prefers to skulk along the walls.
Kaa is, of course, a Rock Python featured in a previous story.
Nagaina and her husband Nag are Indian Cobras. It is Nagaina who plans the ambushing of Rikki-tikki-tavi, and when that fails sets out to punish the white people who own the bungalow for killing her husband.
|Rikki-tikki-tavi's, first major confrontation with a snake was after his encounter with the two cobras. What kind of snake did Rikki blunder into and fight in the garden, luckily winning the fight and leaving the dangerous reptile paralysed and dying?|
Karait. There is a scene at the start of the story when the young white boy rushes to pet Rikki and disturbs a "dusty brown snakeling". Unbeknownst to Rikki the small snake was as venomous, and as dangerous, as the bigger cobras that Rikki had just met. Karaits, or Kraits, are indigenous throughout Asia; they are fairly docile during the day but can be aggressive at night. They are a member of the Bungurus genus and tend to be from 1 to 1.5 metres in length. Kraits are ophiophagous which means they prey on other species of snake as well as their own kind.
The Rock Python, Banded Kukri and Bamboo Pit Viper are also indigenous to south east Asia.
|When Rikki-tikki-tavi, the mongoose, is stirred to anger, what colour do his eyes turn?|
Red. When his anger is aroused Rikki's eyes turn red and he makes a ticking sound to signify aggression. On approaching the subject of his anger, usually a snake, he will dance in a rocking gait just out of reach of the snake's range. When he sees a chance he aims to bite the back of the snake's head to immobilise it.
|Where, in the garden of the bungalow belonging to the white man, did the female cobra secrete her clutch of eggs to hatch?|
Melon-bed. An Indian Cobra can usually lay between 12 and 20 eggs, though as many as 40 can be laid by one female cobra. The female cobra guards her nest diligently and will only leave the nest to feed. 50-60 days after the eggs have been laid baby cobras hatch and they are already venomous and deadly. Female cobras will nest in all the places stated above but only the "Melon-Bed" is mentioned within the story.
|What plan did Rikki-tikki-tavi, the mongoose, use to lure the female cobra away from her clutch of eggs?|
Darzee's wife pretended that her wing had been broken. When Nagaina, the female cobra, sees Darzee's wife pretending to have broken her wing she sets off to kill her in revenge for an earlier incident in the garden. While Nagaina is distracted by the "injured" tailor-bird Rikki is hunting for the cobra nest to destroy the eggs before they hatch.
|In which room of the bungalow did Rikki-tikki-tavi, the mongoose, find and fight the male cobra?|
Bathroom. The male cobra, Nag, is sent into the house to kill the family so that the bungalow, and its surroundings, will be safe and quiet for when the clutch of cobra eggs hatch. Nag hides in the bathroom and awaits the "big man" to arrive. He is found asleep by Rikki who immediately grabs him by the neck and with the noise from the ensuing fight awakens the man of the house. Upon seeing the furious battle the man retreats into the house to collect his gun, returns to the bathroom and blasts the male cobra with both barrels, nearly killing Rikki in the process. Poor Nag's body is unceremoniously dumped on the rubbish heap in full view of his vengeful wife.
The name "Nag" is the Hindu word for snake.
|What is the name of the young white boy who lives at the bungalow where this story takes place?|
Teddy. The English family has just moved into the bungalow when they find Rikki in their garden. We do not the name of the father but both the mother (Alice) and the son (Teddy) are named in the story. It is Teddy, with his childish innocence and vulnerability, who is most in need of Rikki's protection from the two cobras that inhabit the garden.
Anybody who picked Mowgli should know he is a character from another Kipling story.
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