Visiting Lynda (Mainly Mongoose) is always such a pleasure and a special treat for me was to go out with her to see how the mongoose were doing. She has a fantastic blog which she writes with a wonderful sense of humour and is full of interesting encounters in out African bush so do go and read Blog.
The dwarf mongoose is the smallest of the African mongooses. It is stocky, with a fairly short, pointed muzzle and a long, fluffy tail. It is usually speckled brown or reddish in color.
Mongooses are found in most parts of Africa. They vary greatly in their habitat and social organization. Most species are solitary, but others live in stable social groups. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests and semi-arid areas. Some species
Dwarf mongooses live in a group of 12 to 15 individuals, which covers a range of approximately 75 acres that overlaps with the ranges of other groups. A range usually contains 20 or more termite mounds, which are used as den sites, lookout posts and sources of food. The mongoose is nomadic, and groups seem to be constantly on the move through their range, seldom using a den site for more than a few days at a time.
Each dwarf mongoose group is led by a dominant female and her male consort, usually the oldest animals in the group. The rest of the group is composed of family members, generally older offspring of the dominant pair. Each year the alpha female produces three litters of young, with two to four infants in each litter. The young of the dominant female are second in the group’s social system, tended for and cosseted by subordinate members. However, this status is immediately lost upon arrival of a new litter. The babysitters, who guard and defend the young, change often during the day so that individuals may forage for food.
Each dwarf mongoose pack has a dominant breeding pair, usually the oldest animals in the pack. Each year the female normally produces three litters of young, with two to four infants in each litter. Subordinate breeding females, which come into estrus at the same time as the dominant female, mate with subordinate males in the pack, but such matings seldom produce live young. It is not certain if they fail to conceive or abort early in pregnancy. In the rare instances when they do produce live young, the newborns are believed to either have died quickly or been killed.
The dominant female spends little time with her young other than suckling them; subordinate females tend to them. The babysitters change often during the day (even subordinate males will relieve them and take a turn) so they can forage for food. The babysitters guard and defend the young.
Mongooses are mainly carnivorous-consuming small rodents, reptiles and young birds-but may include fruit and other foods in their diet. Dwarf mongoose mainly feed on insects like termites, locusts, beetles, grubs, larvae and spiders. When they forage, they keep in contact with short chirrup calls, one of many vocalizations they use. Although they often cooperate in hunting, adults generally do share food. They will, however, collect and carry insects to the young.
Predators and Threats
The dwarf mongoose is eaten in some regions of Africa, and is sometimes persecuted as an egg thief despite its ability to keep rat populations down.
Did You Know?
• Several other species of mongooses live in East Africa-the banded mongoose, slender mongoose, marsh mongoose, white-tailed mongoose and the large gray mongoose.
• Although the dwarf mongoose is a small, inconspicuous carnivore, it is a good example of how group cooperation improve a species' chances of survival
Information supplied by: