Helogale parvuladwarf mongoose

Geographic Range

Ethiopia to Angola and eastern South Africa.


These animals inhabit savanah, woodlands, brush country and mountain scrub. They range from sea level up to 1,800m.

Physical Description

Head and body length is 180 to 260mm and tail length is 120 to 200mm. Fur color varies, but is generally speckled brown to greyish. The tail and lower legs are generally darker, with the ventral surfaces being slightly paler.

  • Average mass
    274.8 g
    9.68 oz


Births occur mainly during the rainy season from November to May, and the dominant female often has three litters a year. Gestation lasts 49-56 days and average litter size is four. Young nurse for 45 days, and they are also brought food before being fully weaned. Juveniles begin to forage with the group at around six months of age. Full sexual maturity isn't reached until about three years old.

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



Dwarf mongooses have an interesting social system where the group is composed of an older, dominant female and her matriline. The second ranking animal is the mate of the dominant female. The dominant pair are monogamous and the only breeders in the group. The next dominant is the youngest offspring. Within any age class, females are dominant over males. Sub-adults clean, carry and feed juveniles and take turns "baby-sitting." Occasionally females other than the dominant will nurse the young. Despite this restricted breeding potential, maturing young do not appear to leave the group, and only when the female dies does the group split. Groups have a home range of around 2 ha. that sometimes moves due to prey availability.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet is mostly insects with small vertebrates, eggs, and fruit also being eaten occasionally. Most of the day is spent looking for food among brush, leaves, and rocks.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No information

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No information

Conservation Status


Anna Bess Sorin (author), Biology Dept., University of Memphis.



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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


Nowak, R.M. and J.L.Paradiso. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World 4th Ed. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.