The species is red-brown to black, with black limbs. The head is more grayish, with a black spot on the chin. This species has a total length of 60 to 65 cm (including tail) and a weight of about 1.4 kg. The tail is relatively short, about 25 cm.
The short-tailed mongoose is found in lowland rainforests of Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippine islands Palawan and Busuanga. It is common in the neighbourhood of rivers and other bodies of waters. One of its subspecies is often considered a separate species instead, the Hose's mongoose.