Galerella sanguineaslender mongoose

Geographic Range

Slender mongooses, Galerella sanguinea, are native to the sub-Saharan region of Africa, including the northeastern parts of Namibia and northern and eastern Botswana. (Cavallini, 1992; Graw and Manser, 2017; Ramesh and Downs, 2014; Veron, et al., 2004)


Slender mongooses can be found in habitats with conditions ranging from semi-desert habitats with little vegetative cover to dense woodlands. They nest in covered habitats such as burrows and holes within trees. Slender mongooses can be found on forest edges, along roadways, can co-exist with humans in villages. Elevations ranges from 0 to 2700 m across these habitats. They live in burrows that they dig themselves; however, they more typically make use of an existing burrow. (Cavallini and Nel, 1990a; Cavallini and Nel, 1990b; Cavallini, 1992; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Ramesh and Downs, 2014; Watson, 1990)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2700 m
    0.00 to 8858.27 ft

Physical Description

On average, adult slender mongooses weigh 490 to 1250 g and their body lengths (not including the tail) are 275 to 400 mm. Male slender mongooses are 9% larger in both mass and body length (560g and 300mm, respectively) than females (490g and 260mm, respectively). Tail lengths are reported as 230 to 330 mm. They have 5 toes each on their front and back feet. Their forefeet are curved and sharp for better foraging as well as fighting predators. Slender mongooses have a dental formula of 3142/3132, totaling 28 teeth.

Coat color ranges from a grizzled yellowish-brown to bright reddish-brown, and their belly color is buff. All individuals have a long and slender dark brown or black-tipped tail. Slender mongoose ears are small and symmetrical to the side of the head. Their eyes have an iris that is bright orange.

Slender mongoose pups weigh approximately 300 g and are approximately 150 mm in length. Their eyes remain closed until they are 3 weeks of age.

They possess anal glands that release a musky smell. Slender mongoose have an average basal metabolic rate of 2.2020 cm3 oxygen/hr. This rate has also been reported as 0.76 cm3/g/hr. (Cavallini, 1992; Do Linh San and Maddock, 2016; Graw and Manser, 2017; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Morely, et al., 2007; Taylor, 1975; Vaughan, 1976; Watson, 1990)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    490 to 1250 g
    17.27 to 44.05 oz
  • Range length
    505 to 770 mm
    19.88 to 30.31 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    2.2020 cm3.O2/g/hr
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    2.202 W


Slender mongooses are promiscuous. Multiple related males have overlapping home ranges and they "share" a group of females among them. This leads to litters with shared, but related, paternities. Male mongooses can tell a female is in estrus due to scent cues, and estrus can last longer than a week. (Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Kingdon, 1977; Schneider and Kappeler, 2013)

Slender mongooses have a seasonal breeding interval, breeding during the short (October and November) and long (February to April) periods of rain. Slender mongoose females typically have 2 pups per litter (range 1 to 4) and 1 to 2 litters per breeding season. The gestation period of slender mongoose ranges from 57 to 65 days.

Slender mongoose pups are born with an average birth weight of 20.2 g. Their eyes remain closed until they are 3 weeks old. They begin to consume solid food at about 28 days, with weaning at 55 days or as late as 71 days.

Slender mongoose pups reach independence from their mothers 70 to 148 days of age. According to Graw and Mander (2017), the age when a female mongoose reaches sexual or reproductive maturity is unclear but could potentially be around 10 months of age due to dispersion, meaning that female mongoose reaches sexual maturity once she has left the "nest". Schneider and Kappeler (2013) report the age of maturity as 12 months. Smaller body size as well as size of testes as yearlings suggests that males do not begin breeding until age 2 (Graw 2017) (Cavallini and Nel, 1990b; Cavallini, 1992; Graw and Manser, 2017; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Kingdon, 1977; Schneider and Kappeler, 2013)

  • Breeding interval
    Slender mongooses breed once or twice yearly
  • Breeding season
    Slender mongooses breed during the short rain season (October and November) or long rain season (February to April)
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 4
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    57 to 65 days
  • Range weaning age
    71 (high) days
  • Average weaning age
    55 days
  • Range time to independence
    70 to 148 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    10 to 12 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    365 days

Slender mongoose pups are born in nesting sites that provide sufficient cover (holes in the ground, old termite mounts, hollow tree trunks, etc.). Slender mongoose pups do not begin to leave the nest until 31 to 45 days after birth and at that time it is only to begin foraging with the mother. Male slender mongoose are not involved in pup rearing. Slender mongoose pups have been observed suckling up to 77 days of age, but it's typically 55 days (Graw, 2016). Juvenile pups become independent somewhere between 70 and 148 days, leaving the nest for the first time unaccompanied by mothers. Slender mongoose females are very protective of their young. (Cavallini, 1992; Graw and Manser, 2017; Watson, 1990)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


The maximum lifespan of the slender mongoose in the wild is reported at 8 years and the maximum recorded lifespan in captivity was 12.6 years. (Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    8 (high) years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    12.6 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    12.6 years


Slender mongooses are diurnal, actively foraging during the cool parts of the day. Although slender mongooses are mainly terricolous, they are the only species of mongoose in eastern Africa to be arboreal. This skill allows them to prey on nesting birds as well as eggs. When individuals get excited, the hairs on their back and tail mail be raised. They can hiss at one another, as well. When they are disturbed, they are known to stand frozen, either on just their hind legs or on all four.

These mongooses are solitary and rarely travel or live in groups. Male mongooses are the more social of the sexes, known to form loose, non-aggressive associations with as many as four individuals at a time. These males typically are related to one another. Slender mongooses engage in inter-specific behavior and play was initiated between mongoose and several species groups - hyraxes, antelopes, and monkeys.

These mongooses burrow in hollow trees, rocky crevices, and holes in the ground. They can be commonly seeing traveling along roads and other human-made pathways. (Graw and Manser, 2017; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Kingdon, 1977; Taylor, 1975)

Home Range

Home ranges have been reported as approximately 0.25 to 0.50 square km by Kingdon (1977) and 1 square km by Taylor (1975). Males have larger home ranges than females, but several males commonly have nearly identical, fully-overlapping areas. Female home ranges typically do not overlap. (Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Kingdon, 1977; Taylor, 1975)

Communication and Perception

Baker (1982) described five vocalizations of slender mongooses: (1) spit and (2) growl which are used when threatening potential predators; (3) snarl which is only used when two individuals approach each other in attack; (4) buzz used only by females when she has found her mate during peak activity periods; and (5) the ‘huh-new’ which is a distress call. Scent-making using urine as well as anal drags (dragging of the anus across an object with the release of anal secretion) are used for territorial purposes including mate marking. Male slender mongoose may use tactile gestures when they are aggressive and territorial. (Baker, 1982; Graw and Manser, 2017; Schneider and Kappeler, 2013)

Food Habits

Slender mongooses are opportunistic omnivores with a diet primarily consisting of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fruit, and insects. In one reported study, insects (primarily grasshoppers) were found in 73% of stomachs, lizards in 27%, and mice in 25%. Examples of consumed lizards include southern tree agamas (Acanthocercus atricollis), variable skinks (Trachylepis varia). Mice in the genera (Mastomys) and (Rhabdomys) also were detected. Large creek rats (Pelomys fallax) were also discovered. They can also hunt snakes, and anecdotally have eaten venomous snakes like cobras (Elapidae) and mambas (Dendroaspis).

Slender mongooses prey on birds including white-browed sparrow weavers (Plocepasser mahali), southern pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor), crimson-breasted shrikes (Laniarius atroccineus), and glossy starlings (Lamprotornis nitens). Frogs, fruits, and other seeds that are readily available also are consumed. Slender mongooses may eat bird and reptile eggs.

Slender mongooses store and cache food in burrows for up to several days, especially when caring for young. These mongooses are diurnal foragers that forage primarily mid-morning to late afternoon.

Slender mongooses are versatile and can change their diet depending on habitat and the season. Insects are more commonly consumed in warm, wet months, while lizards and mice are more common in dry, cooler months. (Cavallini and Nel, 1990a; Cavallini and Nel, 1990b; Graw and Manser, 2017; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013; Taylor, 1975; Vaughan, 1976; Watson, 1990)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Slender mongooses have few known predators. Raptors that prey on slender mongooses include African hawk-eagles (Aquila spilogaster), tawny eagles (Aquila rapax), and martial eagles (Polemaetus bellicosus). Larger carnivore predators include lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), and African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). According to Baker (1982), slender mongooses will spit, growl, snarl, and buzz when they feel threatened. (Baker, 1982; Cavallini, 1992; Taylor, 1975)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Slender mongooses may disperse seeds through their fecal matter. Slender mongoose have helminth parasites, such as Rictularis myonacis, nematodes from the genera Riticularia, Filaroides, Travassopirura and Oxinema, and cestodes such as Mathevotaenia herpestis and Mathevotaenia ichneumonitis. Protozoan parasites include those in the genus Babesia. Arthropod parasites including fleas (Echidnophaga bradyta, Echidnophaga gallinacea, Pulex irritans, Ctenocephalides felis, Synosternus burtoni, Listropsylla agrippinae) and ticks (Haemaphysalis spinulosa, Haemaphysalis zumpti, Haemaphysalis subterra, Ixodes, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus, Rhipicephalus zambeziensis, and Laelaps liberiensis). (Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Slender mongooses are sold in bush-meat markets in areas of sub-Saharan Africa as well as being used in traditional forms of medicines. (Do Linh San and Maddock, 2016; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Slender mongooses are carriers of rabies that could infect humans or domesticated animals. They also carry the antibodies for a tick (Dermatacentroxenus akari) which causes a tick-borne disease, rickettsial pox. (Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013)

Conservation Status

Slender mongooses are listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. They have no special status through CITES, US Federal, or the state of Michigan list. Threats to slender mongoose are human in origin and include collection for use in medicine and sale on the bushmeat market. However, their strong odor has been said to discourage their collection and use as bush meat. These mongoose are widespread and considered one of the most common mongoose in Africa. Therefore, no conservation measures are in place. (Do Linh San and Maddock, 2016; Hoffmann and Taylor, 2013)


Katelynn Webb (author), Radford University, Alex Atwood (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Joshua Turner (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

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

causes or carries domestic animal disease

either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease


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


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


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


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.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

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


remains in the same area


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


lives alone

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


uses sight to communicate


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


Baker, C. 1982. Methods of communication exhibited by captive slender mongooses Herpestes sanguineus. South African Journal of Zoology, 17/3: 143-146.

Cavallini, P. 1992. Herpestes pulverulentus. Mammalian Species, 409: 1-4.

Cavallini, P., J. Nel. 1990. Ranging behaviour of the Cape grey mongoose Galerella pulverulenta in a coastal area. Journal of Zoology, 222/3: 353-362.

Cavallini, P., J. Nel. 1990. The feeding ecology of the Cape grey mongoose, Galerella pulverulenta (Wagner 1839) in a coastal area. African Journal of Ecology, 28/2: 123-130.

Do Linh San, E., A. Maddock. 2016. "Herpestes sanguineus" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016 e. T41606A45206143. Accessed November 06, 2017 at

Durant, S., M. Craft, C. Foley, K. Hampson, A. Lobora, M. Msuha, E. Eblate, J. Bukombe, J. Mchetto, N. Pettorelli. 2010. Does size matter? An investigation of habitat use across a carnivore assemblage in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79/5: 1012-1022.

Graw, B., M. Manser. 2017. Life history patterns and biology of the slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) in the Kalahari Desert. Journal of Mammalogy, 98/2: 332-338.

Hoffmann, M., M. Taylor. 2013. Herpestes sanguineus: Slender mongoose. Pp. pp.314-319 in J Kingdon, M Hoffmann, eds. The Mammals of Africa. Volume V: Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids, Rhinoceroses, 1st Edition. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Kingdon, J. 1977. East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume 3, Part A. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Maddock, A. 1998. Resource Partitioning in a Viverrid Assemblage (PhD Dissertation). Glenwood, Durban, South Africa: Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Natal.

Morely, C., P. McLenachan, P. Lockhart. 2007. Evidence for the presence of a second species of mongoose in the Fiji Islands. Pacific Conservation Biology, 13/1: 29-34.

Preatoni, D., C. Fernandes. 2006. Species richness and habitat use of small carnivores in the Arusha National Park (Tanzania). Biodiversity and Conservation, 15/5: 1729-1744.

Ramesh, T., C. Downs. 2014. Original investigation: Modelling large spotted genet (Genetta tigrina) and slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) occupancy in a heterogeneous landscape of South Africa. Mammalian Biology, 79/5: 331-337.

Rathbun, G., T. Cowley. 2008. Behavioural ecology of the black mongoose (Galerella nigrata) in Namibia. Mammalian Biology, 73/6: 444-450.

Schneider, T., P. Kappeler. 2013. Social systems and life-history characteristics of mongooses. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 89/1: 173-198.

Taylor, M. 1975. Herpestes sanguineus. Mammalian Species, 65: 1-5.

VanderPost, C. 2007. Geographic prospects for large-scale African mammal wildlife conservation. GeoJournal, 69/7: 223-237.

Vaughan, T. 1976. Feeding behavior of the slender mongoose. Journal of Mammalogy, 57/2: 390-391.

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, 30/3: 528-598.

Watson, J. 1990. The taxonomic status of the slender mongoose, Galerella sanguinea (Riippell, 1836), in southern Africa. Navorsinge van die Nasionale Museum, 6/10: 367-370.

Weigl, R. 2005. Longevity of Mammals in Captivity from the Living Collections of the World. Stuttgart, Germany: Kleine Senckenberg-Reihe 48.