Gef the Talking Mongoose

In September 1931, the Irving family claimed to hear a scratching behind the walls of their farmhouse on the Isle of Man. That seemed mundane enough until the scratcher revealed itself as Gef, a 79-year-old talking mongoose from New Delhi. Over the next four years, James Irving kept a journal recording the family’s bizarre interactions with the creature, which he said threw objects, boasted about its powers, and gossiped about the neighbors.

Investigations went nowhere, as Gef appeared and spoke only to the Irvings. A hair sample and tooth impressions suggested only a dog; a set of pawprints were found not to be those of a mongoose.

It’s hard to credit such an outlandish story, but it’s equally hard to see why anyone would invent it. The Irvings profited nothing by it and were widely ridiculed in the media; when the family finally sold the house in 1937, they lost money, as it was now reputed to be haunted.

In 1947, the new owner claimed to have discovered and shot a real mongoose on the property. You don’t suppose … ?