When Rikki attacks, who is Karait about to bite in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?"

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Karait was about to bite Teddy. 

As a house mongoose, it is Rikki-tikki's job to protect the household and garden from snakes.  While he focuses most of his time on the bigger snakes, such as the pair of cobras, there are also smaller snakes around.  Even a small snake can be dangerous.

But just as Teddy was stooping, something flinched a little in the dust, and a tiny voice said: "Be careful. I am death!'' It was Karait, the dusty brown snakeling that lies for choice on the dusty earth; and his bite is as dangerous as the cobra's.

As we are reminded, snakes like Karait can actually be more dangerous because they are not as easy to see.  Nobody knows they are there, nobody looks out for them, and they can strike without warning.  Rikki-tikki is much more alert, however, and he swoops in to the rescue.

Teddy is not bitten, and he shouts that Rikki is killing a snake.

Rikki-tikki heard a scream from Teddy's mother. His father ran out with a stick, but by the time he came up, Karait had lunged out once too far, and Rikki-tikki- had sprung, jumped on the snake's back, dropped his head far between his fore-legs, bitten as high up the back as he could get hold, and rolled away. 

The man tries to kill Karait with the stick, but Rikki finds that amusing.  There is no point, because Rikki paralyzed Karait by biting him, but he did not eat him.  He was worried that eating the snake would slow him down, because “a full meal makes a slow mongoose” and the cobras are still on the loose.  

Taking his job very seriously, Rikki kills first Nag and then Nagaina.  After the cobras are dead, the garden is safe for the people and animals.  Rikki continues patrolling, intending to keep it that way.