Habitat and Ecology
In Lao PDR, this species is found in evergreen forest (including degraded areas), mainly near water; the most recent records are from hill and mountainous areas (Duckworth et al, 1999). In Thailand, Cambodia and southern Viet Nam this species is found also in deciduous forest. In India this species is found in lowland wet-evergreen forests, secondary forest and areas around industrial areas (ie oil refineries). There are records from rice fields and other agricultural areas, and even near human settlements (Pham Trong Anh, 1980). However, in Assam, India, it has not been observed near human habitations (Choudhury, 1997). Little is known about its breeding, though the gestation period is thought to be about nine weeks; probably meaning that this species reproduces more slowly than Herpestes javanicus (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It feeds on fish, frogs, crabs, mollusks, insects and crayfish (Van Rompaey, 2001).
It is readily approached by humans due to its apparent nearsightedness (Van Rompaey, 2001), and fearlessness (Pocock, 1941). It has lived up to 13 years and 4 months in captivity (Jones, 1982). Wang and Fuller (2001) conducted a study on the ecology of this species near Taohong Village in northern Jiangxi Province, southeastern China, from April 1993 to November 1994. Wang and Fuller (2003) conducted a study on the food habits of this species in a rural agricultural area of southeastern China (Taohong Village, Jiangxi Province) by analyzing its scats, the study was conducted between June 1992 and November 1994, and found that this species ate mammals, reptiles, insects, and crustaceans.
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
On the China Red List it is considered near threatened, nearly meeting vulnerable due to past population declines (A1c). There is no demand for its meat in restaurants in Viet Nam (Roberton, S. pers. comm.). Incidental capture in snares is also a threat. Retaliatory killing for raiding poultry on farms in India might be a threat, but this is not considered a major threat to the population. Hunting is probably the main threat in Lao PDR, but the species persists widely ( and, despite being a ground-dwelling animal, and thus potentially suffering from incidental trapping, there is equivocal evidence for only localized population reduction (Duckworth, W. pers. comm.).
It occurs in protected areas throughout its extent of occurrence. It is protected in China (near threatened), Thailand, Myanmar, and Peninsular Malaysia. It is listed in Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, and in Appendix III of CITES (India) (Van Rompaey, 2001). It is not protected in Viet Nam.
It is generally grey in color, with a broad white stripe on its neck extending from its cheeks to its chest. Its throat is steel-gray with white ends of its hair, rendering a salt and pepper appearance. Its hind feet possess hairy soles. Its tail is short and homogeneously colored with a fairer tip.
The body length of crab-eating mongoose is 36–52 cm (14–20 in) and body weight 1–2.3 kg (2.2–5.1 lb).
Distribution and habitat
Crab-eating mongooses are common in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, northern Myanmar and northeastern India. They are rare in Bangladesh. In Nepal, they occur in the lower and central hilly regions.
Ecology and behaviour
Crab-eating mongooses are usually active in the mornings and evenings, and were observed in groups of up to four individuals. They are supposed to be good swimmers, and hunt along the banks of streams and close to water.
Despite their common name, their diet consists not only of crabs, but also just about anything else they can catch, including fish, snails, frogs, rodents, birds, reptiles, and insects.
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 569–570. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Duckworth, J.W. and Timmins, R. J. (2008). "Herpestes urva". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Sheng, H., ed. (2005). Atlas of Mammals of China (in Chinese). Zhengzhou: Henan Science and Technoledge Press. p. 188. ISBN 7-5349-2936-9.
- Van Rompaey, H. (2001). The Crab-eating mongoose, Herpestes urva. Small Carnivore Conservation 25: 12–17.
- Menon, V. (2003). A field guide to Indian mammals. Penguin India, New Delhi