Species accounts

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Vulnerable due to habitat loss.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

SUBFAMILY

Galidiinae

TAXONOMY

Galidia elegans Geoffroy, 1837, Madagascar.

OTHER COMMON NAMES French: Galidie élégante; German: Ringelschwanzmungo; Spanish: Mangosta de cola anillada; Malagasy: Vontsira mena.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 11.8 in (30 cm); tail 8.3 in (21 cm); weight 2 lb (900 g). Fur is soft russet-brown. Tail has five or six black rings.

DISTRIBUTION

Northern, eastern, and west-central Madagascar. HABITAT

Lives in humid forests. BEHAVIOR

Diurnal. Living in pairs or small family groups lead by female. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet consists of small mammals, birds, frogs, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, fish, insects, and millipedes.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. One young is born, fully furred, with eyes closed. Mature at one year.

Fossa

Cryptoprocta ferox

SUBFAMILY

Galidiinae

TAXONOMY

Cryptoprocta ferox Bennett, 1833, Madagascar. OTHER COMMON NAMES

Malagasy: Fosa; French: Fousa; German: Frettkatze; Spanish: Fossa gatuno.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Largest herpestid, 5-6.6 ft (1.5-2 m) with tail. Weight 15.4-26.5 lb (7-12 kg). Coat is reddish brown. Slender body and short legs, square muzzle and round ears. Canines and car-nassials are well developed.

DISTRIBUTION

All of Madagascar except High Plateaux. HABITAT

Lives in forest and woodland.

BEHAVIOR

Crepuscular and nocturnal, solitary. Lives in the trees and on the ground.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet includes lemurs, small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Females have one litter per year of two to four young born November to January. Weaning at 4.5 months. Adulthood reached at three years.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered due to habitat loss and human persecution.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Small Indian mongoose

Herpestes javanicus

SUBFAMILY

Herpestinae

TAXONOMY

Herpestes javanicus (Geoffroy, 1818), Java. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Javan gold-spotted mongoose; French: Petite mangouste indienne; German: Indien Goldstaub-Manguste; Spanish: Mangosta javanés.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 15.4 in (39 cm); tail 10.2 in (26 cm); weight 1.8 lb (800 g). Coat is brown to reddish brown, speckled with black and gray hair tips.

DISTRIBUTION

Malayan and Indo-Chinese Peninsulas, Sumatra, Java. Introduced to West Indies, Hawaiian Islands, Fiji, Comores, Costa Rica, Japan, and Mauritius.

HABITAT

Habitat generalist. Found in arid plains to wet tropical forests.

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and solitary. Home ranges are 0.62 mile (1 km) wide. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on invertebrates, birds, rodents, and reptiles, including venomous snakes.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Females reproductive as early as 10 weeks. Breed two or three times per year. Litter of two to four young weaned in one month. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Where introduced, responsible for extinction of several endemic island species, killing of poultry, and the spread of rabies. Estimated to cause $50 million in damage every year in Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands alone. ♦

Dwarf mongoose

Helogale parvula

SUBFAMILY

Mugotinae

TAXONOMY

Helogale parvula (Sundevall, 1846), South Africa. OTHER COMMON NAMES

Swahili: Kitafe; French: Mangouste nain; German: Zwergichneumon; Spanish: Mangosta enana.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 7-11 in (18-28 cm); tail 5.5-7.5 in (14-19 cm); weight 7-10 oz (200-300 g). Grizzled fur is reddish brown. Adults have juvenile features, including a short muzzle and large head.

DISTRIBUTION

Ethiopia to Angola and eastern South Africa. HABITAT

Lives in dry savanna and woodland. BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and highly social. Group is led by matriarch. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eats mostly insects, and other arthropods, but some small vertebrates are consumed.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous, only alpha pair breed. Cooperative care of young by group members. Up to three litters per year, each up to six young.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Liberian mongoose

Liberiictis kuhni

SUBFAMILY

Mungotinae

TAXONOMY

Liberiictis kuhni Hayman, 1958, Liberia. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Mangouste de Liberia; German: Liberia-kusimanse; Spanish: Mangosta de Liberia.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 15.7-17.7 in (40-45 cm); tail 7-8.7 in (18-22 cm); weight 4.4-5 lb (2-2.3 kg). Coarse brown coat with grizzled, stiff guard hairs. Black stripe on neck. Tapering tail. Snout is long and mobile, extending beyond lower lip.

DISTRIBUTION

Liberia, western Ivory Coast, and southern Guinea. HABITAT

Found in riverine and swamp forest. BEHAVIOR

Diurnal. Living in small family groups of four to eight individuals.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Specialist on large burrowing earthworms and other soft invertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding thought to occur during the rainy season (May-September) during peak earthworm availability. Mating system is not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered due to habitat degradation and hunting pressures.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Subject to hunting for bushmeat. ♦

Common name /

Scientific name/

Physical

Habitat and

Conservation

Other common names

characteristics

behavior

Distribution

Diet

status

Narrow-striped mongoose

Small mongoose with gray grizzled coat.

Diurnal and group living.

Very restricted. Forested Insects, beetle larvae, and

Vulnerable

MungotIctIs decemlIneata

Narrow reddish brown stripes on back.

Found in dry deciduous

area In Morandava

small vertebrates.

English: Ten-lined mongoose;

Bushy tail gives squirrel-like appearance.

forests.

region, Madagascar.

French: Étroit barré mangouste;

Large ears and pointed snout. Body

German: Schmalstreifenmungo;

11.8-13.8 in (30-35 cm); tail 8.7-10.6 in

Spanish: Galindo de franjas

(22-27 cm); weight, 15.9-24.7 oz

estrechas

(450-700 g).

Malagasy brown mongoose

Similar to ring-tailed mongoose in form.

Behavior unknown. Found in

East coast of

Insects and small verte

Vulnerable

Salanoia concolor

No tail rings. Brown to reddish brown in

dense forests.

Madagascar.

brates.

French: Mangouste salanoia;

color. Body 10.2-11.8 in (26-30 cm); tail

German: Brauner Madagaskar

7.9-9.8 in (20-25 cm); weight 24.7-31.8

Mungo; Spanish: Salano

oz (700-900 g).

Slender mongoose

Long slender body, short legs. Color

Diurnal and solitary. Both

Africa, south of Sahara.

Rodents, reptiles, birds,

Not listed by

Herpestes sanguinus

varies from reddish brown to gray. Tail tip

sexes hold exclusive

and insects.

IUCN

French: Mangouste rouge;

usually black. Body 10.2-13.4 in

territories. Found in forest

German: Rote Manguste;

(26-34 cm); tail 9-12.6 in (23-32 cm);

edge, woodlands, and

Spanish: Mangosta rojo

weight 14-28 oz (400-800 g).

savanna.

Banded mongoose

Grizzled gray with black stripes across

Diurnal, living in large stable

Riverine areas of sub-

Fish, crabs, bivalves,

Not listed by

Mungos mungo

rump. Feet and tail tip black. Body

groups.Found in savanna,

Saharan Africa.

frogs, insects, birds,

IUCN

English: Water mongoose;

11.8-17.7 in (30-45 cm); tail 6-11.8 in

scrub, and woodlands.

reptiles, and small

French: Mangouste des marais;

(15-30 cm); weight 3.3-4.9 lb

mammals.

German: Sumpfmanguste;

(1.5-2.2 kg).

Spanish: Mangosta acuática

Egyptian mongoose

Pale grizzled fur with black tassled tail tip.

Solitary and nocturnal. Found

All of Africa except

Rodents, birds,

Not listed by

Herpestes Ichneumon

Slender body and tail. Body 17.7-23.6 in

in grasslands, savanna, and

Sahara and forested

amphibians, reptiles, and

IUCN

English: Ichnumeon; French:

(45-60 cm); tail 13-21.3 in (33-54 cm);

forest clearings.

areas. Also southern

insects.

Mangouste ichneumon;

weight 4.9-9 lb (2.2-4.1 kg).

Spain, Portugal, and

German: Ichneumon; Spanish:

Israel.

Mangosta africana

Meerkat

Ochre-gray mongoose with dark stripes

Diurnal and group living.

South Africa, Namib

Insects associated with

Not listed by

SurIcata surIcatta

on rump and dark eye-rings and ears.

Occupies grassland, scrub,

Desert, Angola,

large herbivores of grass-

IUCN; may be

English: Suricate; French:

Rotund body, long hind legs, and rounded

desert, and rangeland.

Namibia, and southern

land. Small mammals

affected by

Suricate; German: Scharrtier;

head with tapering snout. Body 11.8-17.1

Botswana.

and reptiles.

decline of large

Spanish: Meerkat

in (30-45 cm); tail 5.9-11.8 in (15-30

herbivores, rabies

cm); weight 4-5 lb (1.5-2.3 kg).

control, and

disease

Yellow mongoose

Yellow to gray coat with white tipped tail.

Diurnal. Lives in pairs or

Southern Africa, in

Insects, especially beetles

Not listed by

Cynictis pencillata

Short muzzle and large ears. Body

social groups led by alpha

Karoo, Botswana, Cape,

and termites.

IUCN

English: Red meerkat; French:

9.8-15.7 in (25-40 cm); tail 7-11 in

pair. Founds in grasslands,

and Kalahari to southern

Mangouste de selous; German:

(18-28 cm).

scrub, and semi-desert

Angola.

Trugmanguste; Spanish:

scrub

Mangosta amarilla

Bushy tailed mongoose

Dark brown mongoose with broad

Nocturnal and solitary.

Mozambique, Malawi,

Ants, termites, reptiles,

Not listed by

Bdeogale crassicauda

dog-like muzzle and bushy tail. Four toes

Found in coastal thickets

Zambia, Tanzania, and

and rodents.

IUCN

French: Mangouste à queue

on each foot. Body 15.7-19.7 in (40-50

and woodlands.

Kenya.

touffue; German:

cm); tail 7.9-11.8 in (20-30 cm); weight

Buschschwanzichneumon;

3.5-5.6 lb (1.3-2.1 kg).

Spanish: Mangosta canina

de cola gruesa

Western cusimanse

Reddish brown mongoose with long

Diurnal and highly social.

Sierra Leone to Ghana.

Leaf litter invertebrates,

Not listed by

Crossarchus obscurus

snout and well developed claws on fore

Found in dense rainforest,

worms, rodents, frogs,

IUCN

French: Mangouste brune;

feet. Tail tapers to a point. Body 11.8—

gallery forest, and in the

and snakes (including

German: Dunkelkusimanse

14.6 in (30-37 cm); tail 5.9-9.8 in (15-

savanna/rainforest transition

venomous species).

25 cm); weight 2.2-3.3 lb (1-1.5 kg).

zone.

Books

Albignac, R. "The Carnivores." In Madagascar. (Key

Environments), edited by Alison Jolly, Philippe Oberle, and Roland Albignac. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1984.

Ewer, R. F. The Carnivores. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973.

Gittleman, J. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology and Evolution. Vols. 1 & 2. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Kingdon, J. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. San Diego: Academic Press, 1997.

Periodicals

Bdolah, A., E. Kochva, M. Ovadia, S. Kinamon, and Z. Wollberg. "Resistance of the Egyptian Mongoose to Sarafotoxins." Toxicon 35 (1997): 1251-1261.

Yoder, A., et al. "Single Origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African Ancestor." Nature 421 (2003): 734-737.

Amy E. Dunham

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