Mungos mungobanded mongoose

Last updated:

Geographic Range

The banded mongoose is native to Africa, and is mainly distributed south of the Sahara. This range extends across Africa, from Gambia to northeastern Ethiopia, and down to South Africa.

Habitat

The banded mongoose has a broad habitat tolerance. They inhabit various terrains including grasslands, woodlands, rocky country (Hinton & Dunn, 1967), and riverine areas (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). However, the banded mongoose is not found in desert or semi-desert areas (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Physical Description

The banded mongoose is considered a small mongoose, as adults reach approximately 550 to 600mm in total body length. Tail length is usually about half the length of the head and body (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). The banded mongoose is distinguishable from other species by a series of black bands across the back, between the mid-back and the base of the tail. The feet and the tip of the tail are also usually dark, and the rest of the coat matches the lighter color of the fur between the black bands on the back. The body color may range from whitish to reddish-brown, with variation among specimens (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

The dental formula is I:3/3 C:1/1 P:3/3 M:2/2 = 36 The cheek teeth tend to have low, rounded cusps, with the carnassials being better adapted to crushing than slicing (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). The muzzle is pointed with a small rhinarium, and the upper lip is intact.

There are 5 digits on the front foot, all with long and curved claws that are used for scratching and digging. The hind foot has 4 digits, each also bearing a claw. The claws on the hind feet are generally shorter, heavier, and less curved (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

There is no apparent sexual dimorphism.

Females have three pairs of abdominal mammae.

  • Range mass
    1000 to 1500 g
    35.24 to 52.86 oz
  • Average mass
    1300 g
    45.81 oz

Reproduction

Females become sexually mature around 9 to 10 months of age (Skinner & Smithers, 1990), and males may begin forming spermatozoa as early as 4 months of age (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). A female participates actively in courtship, often lying on her back and wrestling with the male, or anal-marking him, which he will reciprocate. Before mounting her, the male will circle around the female with his tail held high in the air, covering her with secrtions from the anal gland. Mounting is usually repeated several times (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Gestation is approximately 2 months, and litter size is variable, ranging from two to six. Litters are born in grass lined chambers in warrens, holes in the ground, or old termite mounds. The young are born blind with a sparse amount of hair. They begin to open their eyes around the the 10th day, and have well developed juvenile pelage by 2 weeks of age. Reproduction within a pack is often synchronized so that several females give birth within a few days of each other. The young may be suckled by any lactating female, and they are transported by all pack members. When the pack leaves the den on foraging expeditions, about 1 female per every 8 young will stay behind with the young to care for them. It is also common for one or more adult males to also stay behind with the young and female(s), to help protect the young and increase their chance of survival against predation. Young will begin leaving the den for short excursions around 4 weeks of age, and will begin to regularly accompany the adults foraging when they are around 5 weeks of age. Less than 50% of juveniles survive to the age of 3 months (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    2.5
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    60 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    289 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

The banded mongoose is diurnal and gregarious, living in packs which typically vary in number from 10 to 20 members (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). The pack will usually stay together in the same area as a group, but forage for food individually. However, the banded mongoose has been observed hunting cooperatively to kill more formidable prey, such as large sand snakes (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). As the pack travels and forages, characteristic individual foraging behavior is to hold the nose close to the ground, and every few moment stop to scratch or dig (Skinnr & Smithers, 1990). There is little intraspecific aggression observed during foraging, since food seems to be the primary concern of each individual. Any disputes which may arise over food are yielded to the more dominant pack member (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

The social organization within packs of banded mongooses has not been studied or recorded in detail, but appears to be matriarchal system (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). Packs not only care for their young communally, they also take care of their invalids and elderly. The pack will look after the less capable members by warning then of danger, grooming them, and offering them preferred access to food (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). When the pack is in danger, they will scatter if the terrain allows for a quick and easy escape. If the area does not allow an easy escape, they may bunch up, pushing the youngest members towards the center of the bunch. When danger is sensed, the individual sensing it will vocalize a high pitched warning chitter, which upon hearing the pack will freeze, and given members will rise to a full standing position to asses the situation. If the pack cannot slip away quietly, and they become scattered, all members will begin chittering to keep in communication, the vocalizations becoming more high pitched the more scattered the group becomes (Skinner & Simpson, 1990).

As a pack, the banded mongoos are somewhat nomadic in that they will not stay in one particular den or sheltering area for vary long, usually not more than a few days or weeks at the most. They may, however, stay at a fovored location a little longer, and will often return to a favorite den or shelter site and re-use it repeatedly (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

From observations and analyses of stomach contents, the banded mongoose apears to be mainly insectivorous. The diet is augmented, however, with the soft-bodied invertebrates found while scratching in debris, vegetable matter in the form of wild fruits, reptiles such as lizards and snakes, and occasionally other smaller vertebrates ranging from rats and mice to birds and their eggs (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). When hard objects such as eggs or snails are encountered, the banded mongoose will either throw the object vertically or backwards between its hind legs into a stone or other hard object in order to break it sufficiently (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). Small items are simply picked up in the mouth and eaten, while larger objects may be held in the front paws and then pulled apart. When dealing with toads or hairy caterpillars, the mongoose will often roll them around on the ground and paw at them repeatedly, a behavior that aids in removing noxious secretions or bristles, before eating (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Have been shown to become tame pets when hand raised.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Many other species may be carriers of diseases or parasites that may cause problems for humans. However there are no data available about this area specifically regarding the banded mongoose.

Conservation Status

The banded mongoose is currently widespread, and is not in danger (OregonZoo.com, 1999, Internet).

Contributors

Regina Ladd (author), University of California, Berkeley, James Patton (editor), University of California, Berkeley.

Glossary

Ethiopian

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.

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.

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.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

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.

References

Hinton, H., A. Dunn. 1967. MONGOOSES Their Natural History And Behaviour. London: Oliver And Boyd Ltd..

Oregon Zoo, 2005. "Banded Mongoose" (On-line). Oregon Zoo Animal Fact Sheets. Accessed November 4, 1999 at http://www.oregonzoo.org/Cards/Rainforest/mongoose.banded.htm.

Skinner, J., R. Smithers. 1990. The Mammals of The Southern African Subregion. Pretoria, Transvaal, Republic of South Africa: University of Pretoria.