Bdeogale crassicaudabushy-tailed mongoose

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Bushy-tailed mongooses (Bdeogale crassicauda) are native to eastern Africa in Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Yemen. (McGraw-Hill, 2007; Sale and Mark, 1970)

Habitat

Bushy-tailed mongooses live in flood plains and on the fringes of lowland forests near rivers. The vegetation in these areas is mainly grasslands with small shrubs and scattered trees. They are also found on rocky hills that have plenty of crevices and holes for hiding. The bases of these hills are normally surrounded by grass lands. Along coastal regions they most commonly occur in thick rain forests. (Taylor, 1987)

Physical Description

Bushy-tailed mongooses weigh less than 2 kg and have head and body lengths ranging between 400 to 500 mm, their bushy tails range from 180 to 300 mm long. Their hind feet are between 70 to 84 mm long, with four toes on both their front and back paws. Their claws are slightly curved and are often worn. Males and females are similar in size, but males tend to weigh slightly more. In four of the five subspecies, individuals have dark brown fur, however, B. c. omnivore has yellowy- brown fur. Their coat consists of thick underfur, which ranges from grey to yellow-brown, and long, dark brown guard hairs. The skull of bushy-tailed mongooses is more rounded than other herpestids, which makes their snout appear short. Their dental formula is: I 3/3; C 1/1; P 4/4; M 2/2. Their upper incisors are separated, whereas their lower incisors are close together. Their upper canines are straight, while their lower canines are curved. Their first premolar is peg-like and their 3rd and 4th are larger than other herpestids of a similar size. (Sale and Mark, 1970; Taylor, 1987)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    900 to 2000 g
    31.72 to 70.48 oz
  • Range length
    400 to 500 mm
    15.75 to 19.69 in

Reproduction

The mating system and behavior has not been characterized for this species.

Little is known about the breeding of bushy-tailed mongooses, but they are thought to be similar to other herpestids, where breeding occurs during wet seasons that are linked with monsoons, from March to May and October to December. Mongooses have gestation periods of 42 to 105 days and 1 to 4 pups per litter. They may reach sexual maturity as early as 9 to 10 months, or as late as 2 years. (McGraw-Hill, 2007; Taylor, 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Bushy-tailed mongooses breed twice a year during wet seasons.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season occurs from March to May and October to December.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 4
  • Range gestation period
    42 to 105 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9-10 to 24 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    9-10 to 24 months

Little is known of bushy-tailed mongooses' parental care, but once born, young stay close to their mother and nurse. Herpestid offspring tend to be altricial and are raised in dens until they are mobile. (Nowak, 1999)

Lifespan/Longevity

The average lifespan of bushy-tailed mongooses is unknown. In the wild, most herpestids live 6 to 10 years, although in captivity their lifespan is higher. Ring-tailed mongooses (Galidia elegans) have survived up to 24 years in captivity. (McGraw-Hill, 2007)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    24 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    6 to 10 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    10 to 24 years

Behavior

Bushy-tailed mongooses are solitary and primarily nocturnal, sleeping in holes and crevices during the day, although they are occasionally seen during the daytime. Little is known about their territory range. When a individual bushy-tailed mongoose was captured, it did not bark or try to escape, suggesting that this species may be more docile then other mongoose species. (Taylor, 1987)

Home Range

Home Range has not been characterized for this species.

Communication and Perception

Bushy-tailed mongooses are solitary and little is known about their modes of communication. Most communication is likely established from trails left by scent glands located near their anus. (Avital and Jablonka, 2000; Veron, et al., 2004)

Food Habits

Bushy-tailed mongooses are largely insectivorous, feeding mainly at night. Their claws may be used for scraping at larvae and insects from top layers of soil but not for extensive digging. In captivity, bushy-tailed mongooses were unable to break eggs, but ate egg contents when they were pre-broken. Likewise, live rats were also consumed by captive mongooses, but they had difficulty capturing and killing them. One individual was offered a live 100 cm long striped bellied sand snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus), which the mongoose soon killed and ate. This may show that they are primarily insectivorous, but will occasionally eat reptiles such as lizards and snakes. (Sale and Mark, 1970)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • insects

Predation

Large birds, such as raptors and other larger carnivores, have been known to feed on mongooses. Other predators of bushy-tailed mongooses may include snakes; evidence of this was shown when an individual was found in the stomach of a large west African gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica). Bushy-tailed mongooses may avoid predators by staying in well hidden holes during the day and coming out at night to feed. (McGraw-Hill, 2007; Taylor, 1987)

  • Known Predators

Ecosystem Roles

Little is known of the ecological role of bushy-tailed mongooses, although they most likely play a role in the reduction of insects and some small reptiles. (Taylor, 1987)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no known economic importance of bushy-tailed mongooses. Other mongooses, such as Asian mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) have been introduced many places such as the Caribbean islands, Hawaii and Japan, to reduce the number of rodents and venomous snakes. It is unlikely that bushy-tailed mongooses will ever be used in this way because they are largely insectivorous. (McGraw-Hill, 2007)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of bushy-tailed mongooses on humans.

Conservation Status

Bushy-tailed mongooses are fairly rare but in some areas, such as the Eastern Arc Mountains, they were more frequently captured by camera traps than any other animal. According to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species they are in the category of 'least concern' due to their wide distribution and the variety of habitats in which they are found. They are also found in many protected areas within their range. Some concerns for bushy-tailed mongooses include the loss of habitat and that protected areas may not be large enough to sustain a sizable population. (Hoffmann, 2008; Schreiber, 1989)

Contributors

Keith Ferguson (author), Northern Michigan University, John Bruggink (editor), Northern Michigan University, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Avital, E., E. Jablonka. 2000. Animal Traditions: Behavioral Inheritance in Evolution. Baltimore: Cambridge University Press.

Hoffmann, M. 2008. "Bdeogale omnivora" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed January 31, 2013 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/136686/0.

McGraw-Hill, 2007. Mongoose. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, 11: 390-391.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World 6th Edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sale, J., T. Mark. 1970. A New Four-toed Mongoose from Kenya, Bdeogale Crassicauda Nigrwscens. Journal of East African Natural History, 28: 10-15.

Schreiber, A. 1989. Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and Their Relatives: An Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. Accessed April 24, 2013 at http://www.carnivoreconservation.org/files/actionplans/weasels_civets_mongooses.pdf.

Taylor, E. 1987. Bdeogale crassicauda. Mammailian Species, 294: 1-4.

Veron, G., M. Colyn, A. Dunham, P. Taylor, P. Gaubert. 2004. Molecular systematics and origin of sociality in mongooses (Herpestidae, Carnivora). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 30: 582-598.