Mongoose are long, hairy animals with a pointed face and a bushy tail. Despite common belief, Mongoose is not a rodent.
They are members of the family of Herpestidae, which also includes civets and meerkats.
Mongoose is one of the most exciting animals in the world.
Scientific Classification and taxonomy
Here is the mongoose taxonomy according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Subkingdom: Bilateria
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Superclass: Tetrapoda
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Suborder: Feliformia
- Family: Herpestidae
They are often mistaken for rodents because of their pointed ears, but they are actually part of the Herpestidae family.
This specific scientific Classification also includes sea-cats and civets.
There are about 34 different species of Mongoose, and while they are primarily found in Africa, some species do occur in Asia and Europe.
In general, they are terrestrial creatures, but some species are semi-aquatic, and others have been found to live in treetops.
There are about 34 species of Mongoose in 20 genera. With so many different species of Mongoose, the sizes are very different.
Their bodies range from the dwarf Mongoose, 7 inches (18 centimetres) long, to the Egyptian Mongoose, 60 cm (2 feet) long, according to National Geographic.
Both mongoose species are short-legged creatures with long legs, pointed noses, fluffy tails and small ears. The diminutive dwarf mongoose is the smallest species of Mongoose with an average adult between 17 and 24 cm in length.
The largest species of Mongoose found is Egyptian Mongoose, which can reach up to 60 cm in length as an adult.
The tail of the Mongoose is always as long as the body and the head are combined. They range in weight from about 0.5 kg to 5 kg, depending on their sex and species of the Mongoose.
Mongoose lives in burrows and feeds on small mammals, reptiles, birds, eggs, and even fruit. A number of mongooses, particularly those of the Herpestes genus, can attack and kill venomous snakes.
They rely on their agility. They dart at the snake’s head, cracking the skull with a powerful bite. Mongooses are rarely bitten; however, they have a glycoprotein that attaches, disables the proteins in the snake venom.
A significant amount of the mongoose species have short brown or grey furs that are grizzled in appearance. Some of the animals have impressive ringed tails or striped coats.
They all have non-retractable claws that are used to dig burrows and hunt for food. Many of them have scent glands that they use to mark their territories or to interact with other family members.
Some species of Mongoose can be very social and even live in large groups known as colonies. Colonies can have as much as 50 members, according to ADW. Some mongoose species prefer to live on their own.
Banded mongoose colonies work, move and fight together as a team. They remain in one place for about a week then travel in a wave to another spot, just like a flock of birds as they migrate, according to the Animal Planet.
Mongoose is active throughout the day and sleeps at night. Throughout the day, they communicate with each other incessantly, mixing subtle sound units much like the human voice, using vocal and syllable combinations to likely organize group gestures, foraging information and other essential messages.
Mongooses are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and vegetables. They generally tend to consume small animals such as birds, reptiles, fish, snakes, crabs, rats, frogs, insects and worms.
They would also add eggs, nuts, vegetables, roots, berries and seeds to their diet. Mongooses are known to smash eggs against hard objects to get into eggs, according to National Geographic.
The diet of the Mongoose depends on the species, but they are all omnivores. In general small animals such as rats, frogs, insects, worms, birds, snakes, and fish thrive.
They supplement their diet with any vegetation that occurs in the area, including berries, roots, nuts and seeds.
A variety of species of Mongoose eat eggs and are known to steal eggs from chicken farms. They smash the eggs by standing on their hind legs and tossing the egg against a rock or hard surface until the shell has cracked.
Mongoose species living along the coast have been known to consume sea turtle eggs and some sea birds’ eggs. There has been no analysis of the reproductive habits of the Mongoose.
Mongoose is believed to breed from March to May and October to December, according to ADW. Mongooses have a gestation period of 42 to 105 days and give birth to one to four offspring at a time.
Baby mongoose are called pups, and a group of offspring is called a litter. Mongoose is thought to be fully mature between 9 months and two years of age and to live in the wild for 6 to 10 years.
Genera & species: 20 genera and 34 species, including:
- Atilax paludinosus (mongoose marsh)
- Bdeogale crassicauda (Bushy-tailed Mongoose)
- Cynictis penicillata (a yellow mongoose)
- Dologale dybowskii (Mongoose of Pousargues)
- Galerella pulverulenta (Cape Gray Mongoose)
- Helogale parvula (a dwarf mongoose)
- Herpestis Ineumon (Egyptian Mongoose)
- Herpestis javanicus (Indian Mongoose)
- Ichneumia albicauda (a white-tailed mongoose)
- Libericitis kuhni (Liberian Mongoose)
- Mungo (banded Mongoose)
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), most mongoose species are rated as endangered, but not extinct.
Ironically, Hawaii and the West Indies were introduced to manage rodent populations in sugarcane plantations in the 1800s. This introduction, in turn, triggered the almost extinction of many species of birds and other animals.
In reality, small Asian Mongoose is one of the 100 worst invasive alien species in the world.
Habits & Lifestyle
Most species of Mongoose are active during the day and sleep in the night. A significant exception is a white-tailed Mongoose found in Southern Africa. The white-tailed Mongoose is a nocturnal species and is lonely except during the mating season.
Banded Mongoose is one of the most common species of Mongoose living in large groups. They’re known to live, fight, forage, and move together as a team. They prefer to remain in one place for around a week before leaving to find new food sources.
Some species of Mongoose are either solitary or live in breeding pairs. The majority of mongoose species, however, live in large social groups.
Generally, there are a few lookouts posted during the day to keep the community secure. Any members of the group will take care of the young while the rest of the group takes care of the forages in the vicinity.
Mongoose keeps making noise all day, and some researchers have noticed that the chatter seems to include changes in sound like a human voice. The theory is that they communicate potential hazards, feed information, and community movements.
- Both Mongoose and Mongeese are considered valid plurals of the word mongoose. A baby mongoose is called a pub.
- Mongeese produces a litter of 2 to 4 pubs.
- A small amount of snake venom can be tolerated by a mongoose.
- Mongoose also prefers to live in burrows left behind by other animals instead of digging their own home.
- When the lookout mongoose whistles, the entire mongoose colony runs underground to hide until the danger is over.
- A colony of mongoose has been shown to pass on the habits of foraging to the next generation.
- In ancient Egypt, the Mongoose was regarded as a holy animal. Mummified Mongoose was often found in tombs, and the image of a mongoose was often found in burial urns.
- A colony of mongeese is known by a variety of names, including a mob, band, pack, and troop.
- Mongeese tend to share food and support each other in tough times.
- Mongoose have a range of natural predators, including jackals, leopards, hawks, and storks.
- In the wild, the average lifespan of a mongoose is between 6 and 10 years but they can live in captivity for up to 20 years.
- Mongoose can reach a maximum speed of 32 km/h.
- Mongoose are really good climbers when they need to get away from the predator.