Bdeogale nigripesblack-footed mongoose

Geographic Range

Bdeogale nigripes lives in African rainforests, from southeastern Nigeria to northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and also northern Angola. (Nowak ,1999)


Black-legged mongooses live in dense African rainforests and are often found near rivers. (Rosevear, 1974)

Physical Description

The body of B. nigripes is long, ranging from 375 to 600 mm long with short limbs and a blunt muzzle. The tail is 175 to 375 mm long. Adult animals stand 150 to 175 mm at the shoulders. These mammals weigh between 900 and 3000 g.

The upper layer of fur on the black-legged mongoose is long and coarse with a soft, dense undercoat. The individual hairs are generally banded with colors ranging from white at the base to dark brown at the tip. Their predominant coat color is grayish-brown with black legs. Several molts can occur which progressively darken the color of the fur as the animal ages.

B. nigripes have 4 shallowly webbed digits with non-retractile claws. Scent glands are located in the anal region. The dental formula is: I 3/3, C 1/1, P 3-4/3-4, M 2/2 = 36 – 40. The dentition and skulls of B. nigripes are less specialized than the more carnivorous mustelids.

(Nowak, 1999; Rosevear, 1974)

  • Range mass
    900 to 3000 g
    31.72 to 105.73 oz
  • Range length
    375 to 600 mm
    14.76 to 23.62 in


See Reproduction.


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

B. nigripes have 1 young per litter. Mating occurs during the dry season of West Africa and the young are born between November and January. (Nowak, 1999; Rosevear 1974)

  • Breeding season
    Dry season
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring

Although the parental care of this species has not been described, it is reasonable to assume that the female nurses her young, as is the case for all mammals. Herpestids, in general, have altricial offspring, and the mother typically cares for them in some type of burrow or nest until they are able to move about with her. A female and her quarter-grown young were collected in Kenya in December. (Nowak, 1999)


Captive black-legged mongooses have lived for 15 years. (Nowak 1999)


Black-legged mongooses are nocturnal and primarily terrestrial. They are frequently seen in pairs, but adults are generally solitary. In spite of their solitary habit in the wild, adults can be kept together in captivity without hostility. (Ray and Sunquist , 2001; Nowak, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

B. nigripes is primarily insectivorous, feeding on termites, ants, and beetles. They also consume snakes, small mammals and carrion. Captive animals often eat amphibians. They have jaw and dentition structure that suggests crushing abilities but lack any specialization for eating ants. (Ray and Sunquist, 2001; Rosevear, 1974)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects


With the exception of notes indicating that humans sometimes eat these animals, there is no information available on predation. It is reasonable to assume, however, that these animals sometimes fall victim to larger rainforest carnivores.

Ecosystem Roles

Next to nothing is known about the ecology of these animals. Because of their foraging habits, black-legged mongoose populations probably have a negative impact on populations of invertebrates and small mammals on which they feed.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The black-legged mongoose is a source of food in some northeastern African villages. (Ntiamoa – Baidu , 1997)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

B. nigripes is often introduced to kill poisonous snakes and rodents but they often kill desirable species of birds and mammals. (Nowak, 1999)

Conservation Status

Although no special conservation status for this animals has been reported, because it dwells in the rainforest, a threatened habitat, it is at risk from habitat destruction and human encroachment.

Other Comments

B. nigripes was formerly placed in the genus Galeriscus. (GIS Lab, date unknown)


Krista Lewis (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



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

World Map

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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


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).


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.


active during the night


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.


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

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


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


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


GIS Laboratory of Animal and Human Biology Department, , European Commission Directorate-General for Development, Division VIII/A/1, Instituto Ecologica Applicata. Unknown. "African Animals Databank, Carnivora, Bdeogale nigripes" (On-line). Accessed November 17, 2001 at

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

Ntiamoa - Baidu, Y. 1997. "FAO Conservation Guide of United Nations" (On-line). Accessed October 20, 2001 at

Ray, J., M. Sunquist. 2001. Trophic relations in a community of African rainforest carnivores. Oecologica, 127: 395-408.

Rosevear, D. 1974. The Carnivores of West Africa. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History).