Mungotictis decemlineatanarrow-striped mongoose

Geographic Range

Mungotictis decemlineata is found in the Ethiopian region, exclusively in southwestern and western Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa. The species is found only in the Menabe region of the island on the western coast (19 degrees to 21 degrees south lattitude). (Nowak, 1995; Wozencraft, 1990)

There was an unconfirmed sighting around the Lac Tsimanampetsotsa area on the southwestern side of the island (24 degrees 8 minutes south and 43 degrees 46 minutes east). This sighting occurred in 1986, when Wozencraft reported seeing an animal that looked like M. decemlineata, but was colored differently. However, Wozencraft was not sure of the animal's identity. (Hawkins, et al., 2000; Wozencraft, 1990)


Narrow-striped mongooses are known only from the dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar. In the summer (the wet season) nights are often spent in tree holes, in the winter (the dry season) they can be found nesting in ground burrows. (Nowak, 1995; Woolaver, et al., 2006)

Physical Description

Narrow-striped mongooses have a length of 250 to 350 mm from the nose to the base of the tail, and a tail length ranging from 230 to 270 mm. These animals weigh between 600 and 700 g. (Hawkins, et al., 2000; Nowak, 1995)

The pelage is generally gray-beige to gray with 8 to 10 dark stripes on the back and flanks. These stripes give the animal its species name, decemlineata. The tail of the mongoose is usually bushy and squirrel-like, with rings of dark color. The feet do not have hair on them, and the digits are partially webbed. (Hawkins, et al., 2000; Nowak, 1995)

Scent glands can be found on the head and neck, and these are used for marking. Females have one pair of mammae located in the lower abdomen. (Hawkins, et al., 2000; Nowak, 1995)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    600 to 700 g
    21.15 to 24.67 oz
  • Range length
    250 to 350 mm
    9.84 to 13.78 in


This species is monogamous. The mature males and females pair up in the summer for mating. (Nowak, 1995)

Breeding months are from December to April, with a peak in the summer months of February and March. The gestation period in this mongoose is between 90 and 105 days, with one young produced. Young weigh about 50 g at birth and are usually weaned in 2 months. Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years. (Nowak, 1995; Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Breeding interval
    Malgasy narrow-striped mongooses breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding months are from December to April, peaking in February and March.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    90 to 105 days
  • Average weaning age
    2 months
  • Average time to independence
    24 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    742 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

As mammals, M. decemlineata provide the young with milk, frooming, and protection. Nothing more is known about parental care in narrow-striped mongooses. Based on their monogamous breeding system, it is likely that both parents are involved in caring for young. (Nowak, 1995)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female


Nothing is known about longevity in narrow-striped mongooses. As the only member of their genus, it is difficult to use other related species to speculate on the possible longevity of these animals.


These animals are diurnal, and use both arboreal and terrestrial components of their habitat. Animals are social, with social groups typically containing both adult males and females, as well as young of the year and immature individuals. In the winter groups split into transient pairs, all-male units or solitary males, and maternal family groupings. (Nowak, 1995; Wozencraft, 1990)

In one study, between 18 and 22 individuals inhabited an area of 3 square km. These animals appeared to form a social unit. Within this social unit, there were two, more stable, social units. Some hostile contact occured where home ranges meet, the sub-groups were mainly interconnected and docile. (Nowak, 1995; Wozencraft, 1990)

Mungotictis decemlineata is apparently an easy-going creature. One male is reported to have watched researchers and fallen asleep while measurements and notes were being taken on his female partner. (Wozencraft, 1990)

Defecation areas were found on open rocks or cliff points along the escarpment in the Lac Tsimanampetsotsa reserve area. (Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Average territory size
    3 km^2

Home Range

The home range of the Malgasy narrow-striped mongoose on average is about 3 square km. (Nowak, 1995)

Communication and Perception

Little is known about communication in narrow-striped mongooses. However, the presence of scent glands suggests that chemical communication may be important in maintaining group cohesion and identifying territories. (Nowak, 1995)

As social, diurnal animals, it is likely that there is a well developed system of visual signals, such as body posture, which communicate intent. Tactile communication is probably important between mates, as well as between parents and their offspring. It is also likely that these mongooses use some vocalizations, although such communication has not been reported.

Food Habits

Narrow-striped mongooses are insectivores, but may also be found eating invertebrates, small vertebrates, and bird eggs. They forage alone or in pairs covering about 1.3 square km. When feeding on eggs or invertebrates, these animals will lie on one side with the item held in all four feet. They will then swiftly expel the item onto a hard surface repeatedly until broken and eat the contents. (Nowak, 1995; Wozencraft, 1990)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods


A member of the civet family, Cryptoprocta ferox, also called a fossa, is a possible predator of M. decemlineata (Wozencraft, 1990)

Ecosystem Roles

Narrow-striped mongooses are predators of a wide variety of prey including bird eggs. (Nowak, 1995)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No information could be found on economic importance of narrow-striped mongooses.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No information could be found on economic importance of narrow-striped mongooses.

Conservation Status

Narrow-striped mongooses are now classified as endangered by IUCN. The range of this animal is less than 500 square km, and is extremely fragmented. The population is continuing to decline, and the quality of the habitat is also declining. There is very little disturbance to this animal by direct human contact, but as human populations grow, clearing of land for grazing is destroying the habitat of this mongoose. (Nowak, 1995; "Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose. Mungotictis decemlineata", 2002; Wozencraft, 1990)

This species of mongoose is not listed under the CITES index or the US ESA.

Other Comments

The Lac Tsimanampetsotsa area seems to be marginal habitat for this mongoose, but research within the reserve shows it is thriving. Trapping sites outside of the reserve area show that grazing lands do not suit Malagasy narrow-striped mongooses. (Wozencraft, 1990)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Kate Cerra (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


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.


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


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

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

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.


union of egg and spermatozoan


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


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


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 one mate at a time.


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.

scent marks

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

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


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.


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.


The IUCN Species Survival Commission. 2002. "Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose. Mungotictis decemlineata" (On-line ). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed 12/4/02 at

Hawkins, A., C. Hawkins, P. Jenkins. 2000. *Mungotictis decemlineata lineata* (Carnivora: Herpestidae), a mysterious Malagasy mongoose. Journal of Natural History, 34/2: 305-310.

Nowak, R. 1995. "Malagasy Narrow-striped Mongoose" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Accessed October 20, 2002 at

Woolaver, L., R. Nichols, W. Rakotombololona, A. Volahy, J. Durbin. 2006. Population status, distribution and conservation needs of the narrow-striped mongoose Mungotictis decemlineata of Madagascar. Oryx, 40: 67-75.

Wozencraft, W. 1990. Alive and well in Tsimanampetsotsa. Natural History Magazine, 99/12: 28-30.