An Analysis of Rikki Tikki Tavi: The Mongoose Protagonist

In Rudyard Kipling’s celebrated short story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” the main character, Rikki Tikki Tavi, stands out as a unique and fascinating protagonist. This article delves into the nature of Rikki Tikki Tavi, exploring his species, characteristics, and role within the story. By examining his interactions with other characters and his unwavering determination to protect his adoptive family, we gain a deeper understanding of the significance of this courageous mongoose.

The Species: A Mongoose

Rikki Tikki Tavi belongs to the mongoose species, which is a small carnivorous mammal native to Africa and Asia. Mongooses are renowned for their agility, sharp senses, and predatory nature. Their sleek bodies, sharp teeth, and lightning-fast reflexes make them formidable hunters in their natural habitats. In the story, Rikki Tikki Tavi’s species serves as a crucial foundation for his character traits and abilities.

Physical and Behavioral Characteristics

Rikki Tikki Tavi is described as having fur and a tail resembling that of a cat, while his head and habits are reminiscent of a weasel. This combination of features gives him a distinctive appearance, setting him apart from other characters in the story. With his fur allowing for stealthy movements and his keen senses, Rikki Tikki Tavi embodies the perfect balance between grace and alertness.

Moreover, Rikki Tikki Tavi exhibits a strong sense of curiosity and a relentless drive to explore his surroundings. This characteristic is a hallmark of mongooses, as they are notoriously inquisitive creatures. Rikki Tikki Tavi’s insatiable curiosity becomes a defining trait that propels him into various adventures throughout the story.

Rikki Tikki Tavi’s Role in the Story

Rikki Tikki Tavi begins his journey as a lone mongoose, but he soon becomes the cherished pet of an English family living in India. This family rescues him from a life-threatening flood, and in return, Rikki Tikki Tavi dedicates himself to their protection.

While in the family’s garden, Rikki Tikki Tavi befriends an array of creatures, forging alliances that prove essential in his encounters with danger. However, his primary adversaries are two venomous cobras named Nag and Nagaina. Rikki Tikki Tavi’s mission becomes twofold: to eliminate any snakes he encounters and to safeguard the family from the impending threats posed by Nag and Nagaina.

Rikki Tikki Tavi’s Heroic Exploits

Throughout the narrative, Rikki Tikki Tavi demonstrates unparalleled bravery and resourcefulness. His swift reflexes, cunning strategies, and unwavering determination enable him to neutralize multiple snake threats. In one particularly pivotal moment, Rikki Tikki Tavi saves the family’s young child, Teddy, from the venomous snake Karait, cementing his position as the family’s guardian and protector.

Furthermore, Rikki Tikki Tavi thwarts Nag and Nagaina’s plot to harm the family and seize control of their home. His shrewdness and courage are instrumental in dismantling their scheme, ultimately ensuring the safety and well-being of his adoptive family.


Rikki Tikki Tavi, the mongoose protagonist in Rudyard Kipling’s “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” embodies the unique characteristics and traits associated with his species. As a mongoose, he possesses the agility, predatory instincts, and sharp senses necessary to confront the dangers that threaten his adoptive family. Rikki Tikki Tavi’s journey is marked by his unwavering dedication, bravery, and resourcefulness, making him an unforgettable hero in the realm of children’s literature.


  • “Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: Mixing Words and Pictures: Paw-prints and Footsteps.” Edsitement. National Endowment for the Humanities. Link
  • “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.” Wikipedia. Link
  • “Rikki-tikki-tavi.” Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. Link


What animal is Rikki Tikki Tavi?

Rikki Tikki Tavi is a mongoose, a small carnivorous mammal native to Africa and Asia.

How is Rikki Tikki Tavi described in the story?

Rikki Tikki Tavi is described as having fur and a tail like a cat, but a head and habits like a weasel.

What is Rikki Tikki Tavi’s role in the story?

Rikki Tikki Tavi becomes the pet of an English family living in India after they rescue him from drowning. He takes on the responsibility of protecting the family and their garden from dangerous snakes.

Who are the main antagonists in the story?

The main antagonists in the story are two cobras named Nag and Nagaina, who pose a threat to Rikki Tikki Tavi and the family he protects.

What is Rikki Tikki Tavi’s mission?

Rikki Tikki Tavi’s mission is to track down and eliminate any snakes he encounters in the garden. He is determined to keep the garden snake-free and protect the family from harm.

How does Rikki Tikki Tavi demonstrate bravery?

Rikki Tikki Tavi showcases bravery through his encounters with dangerous snakes. He fearlessly confronts them, using his agility and quick reflexes to neutralize the threats they pose.

Does Rikki Tikki Tavi save anyone in the story?

Yes, Rikki Tikki Tavi saves the family’s child, Teddy, from a venomous snake named Karait. He also protects the family from Nag and Nagaina’s plot to harm them and take over their home.

What are the key characteristics of Rikki Tikki Tavi?

Rikki Tikki Tavi is characterized by his loyalty, dedication, and resourcefulness. He is a small but courageous mongoose, committed to guarding the garden and ensuring the safety of his adoptive family.