Mongooses are in the weasel family and live throughout Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. They’re usually found in dry areas where they feed on rodents, insects, snakes, eggs, and even frogs. They generally have a life span of six to eight years in the wild. They have long, thin snouts, small ears, and a slender body. They range in color from reddish-brown to gray or black. Their fur is short except for the bushy tail.
Mongoose Facts for Kids
- Mongooses are small mammals
- Baby mongooses are called pups
- They are carnivorous
- Females have between two to three litters per year
- A mother may give birth to three to five pups
- Some species tend to live on their own, seeking food only for themselves.
Everything You Need To Know About Mongooses
There Size Varies Considerably
The Egyptian Mongoose, for example, can measure up to 2 feet in length, which is pretty huge when you compare it with the Dwarf Mongoose, which usually averages around 7 inches.
These mammals differ considerably depending on their species, but most of them have sleek bodies with shorter, stumpier legs.
There are many other species of these mammals, though, and each one is distinct from the other in ways other than their size.
There Are Many species of Mongoose
We’ve already covered two of them, but there are plenty more besides. In fact, there are 34 in total. Yes, their size all vary, but so too do their appearance and abilities.
For example, most have brown or gray fur, but some have stripes, and others are plainer, and some even have ringed tails.
In terms of their abilities, most of these mammals are comfortable living on the ground, but where their habitat varies, you can see some mongoose species that are semiaquatic and even some that thrive in the treetops of forests.
They Are Ruthless Hunters
When you think ruthless hunters, you might be more tempted to think of lions or sharks, not these cute mammals, right?
Well, they are ruthless predators. They do not discriminate against their prey and will attack and eat anything from rodents, mice, worms, birds, frogs, and reptiles.
Perhaps most surprising of all, these animals have been known to attack and kill venomous snakes such as Cobras to also consume as part of their meal. Not so cute anymore, huh?
They’re Remarkably Resourceful
For comparatively small mammals compared with most, we can forgive you for overlooking these animals as not being particularly clever, but when you look closer at their hunts, you see how resourceful these animals are.
For example, they will steal bird eggs from nests and then launch the egg with their front paws at a solid object in order to eat the contents. Like we said, resourceful!
They’re Both A Threat And Threatened
In their natural habitats, they are under threat from human destruction of their homes, leading to more deaths and less availability of resources for their survival. But away from that, they are also a threat themselves.
They were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands and the West Indies in the 1800s to hunt rodents that threatened the island’s plantations, but these animals have since become a threat to native birds, which are hunted relentlessly by these predators.
Protecting their young, mongooses attack predators with their sharp claws.
They Aren’t A Fan Of Hard Work
Well, sort of. These mammals are most often found on the ground, living in burrows. Of course, there are some that will venture into the treetops and waters nearby, but most will spend most of their time in and around their burrow.
But they don’t actually bother digging a burrow themselves because that’s far too much work for a mongoose. Instead, they’ll simply move into another animal’s burrow that is now vacant. That’s much easier than doing it themselves!
They May Live Alone Or In A Group
Again, it varies by species. When living in a group, a specific mongoose will be tasked with being on the lookout for dangers that may head their way.
If danger is spotted, they will signal an alarm call to warn others of the danger that is approaching.
Once this alarm has been heard, it’s every Mongoose for themselves as they scurry away and hide in the nearest hole.
Many solitary mongooses will also release an alarm call too, just in case there are any others nearby that would benefit from the warning.
They Are Quick
You might have guessed it from the previous point, but when danger is around, they are incredibly agile, especially considering their short legs and long bodies.
This helps with hiding away from danger, as we said, but also in attacking other animals. It’s especially useful should they fight a venomous snake who themselves have lighting fast reflexes.
The battle between these two is always fierce, and the winner is usually decided by who was quick enough to dodge an attack and land one of their own, and in around 80% of cases, it’s the Mongoose that comes out on top.
As Babies They Are Vulnerable
Like most babies in the animal kingdom, baby mongooses are vulnerable at birth.
They are usually born in litters of 2 to 5 after a gestation period of two months, but once born, they are hairless and blind and weigh only a matter of ounces.
This makes them easy targets as food for predatory birds such as eagles and even some big cats such as lions.
It takes around 4 to 6 months for them to become independent, so that’s a lot of protection that is needed in their early months.
They May Even Be Immune To Venomous Snakes
We’re talking about the venomous snake thing a lot, granted, but there are so many interesting facts surrounding this one aspect of a mongoose’s life that it has to be said.
Because yes, they are immune to venomous snake bites.
A neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine has mutated in the Mongoose to be immune to snake venom.
Where typically the venom would paralyze an animal by latching on to acetylcholine, a mongoose’s muscles will not cease up and stop them from moving as it would with most others, meaning they can still fight or flee.
If bitten multiple times, then the venom will take effect, but if just bitten once, a mongoose has a fair chance of survival.
They Have A Decent Lifespan
Mongooses will become mature at ten months old and live for around 6-10 years in the wild, but some have even lived as long as 20 years in captivity.
Given that these mammals deliver a litter once a year, they could live a very successful life passing on their DNA in those 6-10 years in the wild.
They Are Omnivores
Despite their hunting prowess, these mammals are omnivores, not carnivores. As well as the animals they’ll eat for food, and they’ll also happily enjoy a meal of nuts, seeds, and fruit where necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are mongooses blind
They are not blind. They have a number of adaptations to their eyes that allow them to see well in the dark and at dusk.
Do mongooses lay eggs?
It is not a type of bird. It is an animal. So, it doesn’t lay eggs. Mongooses are also mammals, so they give birth to live young.
What eats a mongoose
They can be eaten by wild animals like tigers, lions, jackals, snakes, and leopards. A hawk can also eat it because it can get the tiny prey without even landing.
Can Mongoose kill humans?
Under normal circumstances, a mongoose would rarely, if ever, attack a human. Rabies can make a mongoose go insane and attack anything.
Can a Mongoose kill a king cobra
A mongoose would have the edge in this fight. A cobra’s venom is dangerous to humans, but a mongoose has an immune system that allows it to attack and eat cobras and other venomous snakes without getting hurt.
Do crocodiles eat Mongoose?
The short answer is yes. Crocodiles have a diverse set of prey and will readily take on mongooses if they are hungry enough. They are an occasional favorite of crocodiles in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Can Mongoose be pets
They are wild animals that should not be treated as pets. However, some exotic animal breeders do sell them, usually young ones. They are sold as pets for people that don’t want venomous snakes or dangerous reptiles.