The banded mongoose is a sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. Animals of wetter areas are larger and darker colored than animals of dryer regions. The abdominal part of the body is higher and rounder than the breast area. The rough fur is grayish brown, and there are several dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. The limbs and snout are darker, while the underparts are lighter than the rest of the body. Banded mongooses have long strong claws that allow them to dig in the soil.
An adult animal can reach a length of 30 to 45 cm and a weight of 1.5 to 2.25 kg. The tail is 15 to 30 cm long.
Distribution and habitat
The banded mongoose lives in open savannas, open forests and grassland, especially near water, but also in dry, thorny bushland. The species is common in areas with many termite mounds, that serve as housing and food (see below). The banded mongoose is found in a large part of East, Southeast and South-Central Africa. There are also populations in the northern savannas of West Africa.
The development of agriculture in the continent has had a positive influence on the number of banded mongooses. The crops of the farmland serve as an extra food source.
Banded mongooses live in mixed-sex groups of 7-40 individuals (average around 20). Groups sleep together at night in underground dens, often abandoned termite mounds, and change den frequently (every 2–3 days). The species is unusual among cooperative vertebrates because most females reproduce in each breeding attempt. All adult females in a group enter oestrus around 10 days after giving birth, and are guarded and mated by 1-3 dominant males. Gestation is 60–70 days. Around 70% of adult females in the group carry to term, and give birth together in an underground den. In most breeding attempts, all females give birth on exactly the same day. Each female gives birth to 2-5 pups, average litter size is 4. Pups are kept underground for the first four weeks of life, during which time they are guarded at the den by 1-3 babysitters while the rest of the group goes off to forage. After 4 weeks the pups join the group on foraging trips. Each pup is cared for by a single adult "escort" who helps the pup to find food and protects it from danger. Pups become nutritionally independent at 3 months of age.
When no refuge is available and hard-pressed by predators such as Wild Dogs, the group will form a compact arrangement in which they lie on each other with heads facing outwards and upwards.
Adult females are forcibly evicted from the group when their numbers grow large. Females are evicted by older females and sometimes males. When these dispersing females encounter neighbouring groups they may be joined by groups of subordinate males to start a new group.
Relations between groups are highly aggressive and mongooses are sometimes killed and injured during intergroup encounters. Nevertheless, breeding females will often mate with males from a rival group in the midst of a fight.
In some locations (e.g., Kenya) banded mongooses have been found in close relationship with baboons. They forage together and probably enjoy greater security as a large group because of more eyes on the lookout for predators. The mongooses are handled by baboons of all ages and show no fear of such contact.
The diet of the banded mongoose consists mainly of invertebrates, including insects (termites and larvae of beetles), centipedes, lizards, snakes, frogs and sometimes mice. They dig up most of the food with their strong claws. Sometimes they also eat roots and fruit. One of their favorite snacks is a bird's egg.
Banded mongooses search for food in small, loose groups. To stay in contact, they use a wide variety of sounds.
Banded Mongoose Research Project website 
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- ^ Hoffmann, M. (2008). Mungos mungo. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
- ^ a b c CANT, M.A. (2000) Social control of reproduction in banded mongooses. Anim. Behav. 59:147-158
- ^ GILCHRIST, J.S. (2006). Female eviction, abortion and infnaticide in the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). Behav. Ecol. 17:664-669
- ^ CANT, M.A. (2003) Patterns of helping effort in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. J. Zool. 259:115-119
- ^ GILCHRIST, J.S. (2004). Pup escorting in the communal breeding banded mongoose: behavior benefits and maintenance. Behav. Ecol. 15:952-960
- ^ CANT, M.A., OTALI, E. & MWANGUHYA, F. (2001). Eviction and dispersal in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. J. Zool. 254:155-162
- ^ CANT, M.A., OTALI, E. & MWANGUHYA, F. (2002). Fighting and mating between groups in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. Ethology 108:541-555
- ^ Warthog at Wildwatch.com
- ^ Banded Brothers episode 1 at bbc.co.uk
- Animal, Smithsonian Institution, 2005
- Banded Mongoose Research Project: www.bandedmongoose.org