A photograph of an adult cobra with its hood extended. Its tongue is sticking out.

Source: Indiancobra, Kamalnv, Wikimedia

If you were having trouble with lots of bothersome king cobras lounging around your house, which animal would you choose to get rid of them? A big dog? A cheetah? A (housebroken) elephant? Or a small mammal called a mongoose that’s about the size of a large house cat? The animal that is going to be the best bet for getting rid of those cobras is the last one: the mongoose.

View a video of a mongoose taking on a cobra.

Source: Cobra vs. Mongoose, National Geographic, YouTube

You can see the two animals are fighting, but who started it? Did you notice any clues about which animal is the “attacker”? The narrator doesn’t tell you. However, based what he says and the way the animals behave, you can make an inference about who started the fight. Notice the behavior of the cobra and the mongoose. Which one seems to be the aggressor? Notice that the narrator says, “The snake tries to warn the mongoose away.” The snake is trying to get the mongoose to leave, so what inference can you make about which animal is the attacker?

A photograph of an adult cobra with its hood extended rising up off of the ground.

Source: Cobra hood, Saleem Hameed, Wikimedia

A photograph of a Mongoose. It is a small mammal like a ferret or weasel.

Source: Banded Mongoose, Steve Garvie, Flickr

Is the snake trying to kill the mongoose, or is the mongoose trying to kill the cobra?

The behavior you observe (the mongoose keeps circling and approaching the cobra) added to the information from the narrator should lead you to the inference that the mongoose is trying to kill the cobra rather than the other way around. (Of course, the cobra might end up killing the mongoose, but only to protect itself.)

The information you use to make inferences about a text comes from both your own knowledge and from the text itself. Part of the information the text gives you is conveyed by the way the text is organized. You also get information from the specific details presented in the text.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use different organizational patterns as guides for summarizing and forming an overview of informational texts. You will also practice distinguishing facts from opinions and commonplace assertions.