Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Distributed widely in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and Gambia to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, and south to about 31° in South Africa. Although fairly widespread in southern Africa, the species appears to be rare in West Africa, and it has not been recorded from several countries including Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Niger (Cant and Gilchrist in press). They apparently were introduced to Zanzibar (Pakenham 1984), although neither Stuart and Stuart (1998) nor Goldman and Winther-Hansen (2003) recorded them during camera-trapping surveys, suggesting they are either rare or absent. Recorded to 1,600 m in Ethiopia (Yalden et al. 1996).
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Geographic Range

The banded mongoose is native to Africa, and is mainly distributed south of the Sahara. This range extends across Africa, from Gambia to northeastern Ethiopia, and down to South Africa.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The banded mongoose is considered a small mongoose, as adults reach approximately 550 to 600mm in total body length. Tail length is usually about half the length of the head and body (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). The banded mongoose is distinguishable from other species by a series of black bands across the back, between the mid-back and the base of the tail. The feet and the tip of the tail are also usually dark, and the rest of the coat matches the lighter color of the fur between the black bands on the back. The body color may range from whitish to reddish-brown, with variation among specimens (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

The dental formula is I:3/3 C:1/1 P:3/3 M:2/2 = 36 The cheek teeth tend to have low, rounded cusps, with the carnassials being better adapted to crushing than slicing (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). The muzzle is pointed with a small rhinarium, and the upper lip is intact.

There are 5 digits on the front foot, all with long and curved claws that are used for scratching and digging. The hind foot has 4 digits, each also bearing a claw. The claws on the hind feet are generally shorter, heavier, and less curved (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

There is no apparent sexual dimorphism.

Females have three pairs of abdominal mammae.

Range mass: 1000 to 1500 g.

Average mass: 1300 g.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Occurs in a wide range of habitats, but primarily found in savanna and woodland, usually close to water, and absent from desert, semi-desert and montane regions (Cant and Gilchrist in press). Often found in habitats containing termitaria, which are used as den sites. Diet includes a variety of invertebrate material (insects, snails), small reptiles, the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds, and wild fruits (Cant and Gilchrist in press).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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The banded mongoose has a broad habitat tolerance. They inhabit various terrains including grasslands, woodlands, rocky country (Hinton & Dunn, 1967), and riverine areas (Skinner & Smithers, 1990). However, the banded mongoose is not found in desert or semi-desert areas (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

From observations and analyses of stomach contents, the banded mongoose apears to be mainly insectivorous. The diet is augmented, however, with the soft-bodied invertebrates found while scratching in debris, vegetable matter in the form of wild fruits, reptiles such as lizards and snakes, and occasionally other smaller vertebrates ranging from rats and mice to birds and their eggs (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). When hard objects such as eggs or snails are encountered, the banded mongoose will either throw the object vertically or backwards between its hind legs into a stone or other hard object in order to break it sufficiently (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). Small items are simply picked up in the mouth and eaten, while larger objects may be held in the front paws and then pulled apart. When dealing with toads or hairy caterpillars, the mongoose will often roll them around on the ground and paw at them repeatedly, a behavior that aids in removing noxious secretions or bristles, before eating (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
11.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
12.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 17.4 years (captivity) Observations: In captivity, they may live up to 17.4 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Females become sexually mature around 9 to 10 months of age (Skinner & Smithers, 1990), and males may begin forming spermatozoa as early as 4 months of age (Hinton & Dunn, 1967). A female participates actively in courtship, often lying on her back and wrestling with the male, or anal-marking him, which he will reciprocate. Before mounting her, the male will circle around the female with his tail held high in the air, covering her with secrtions from the anal gland. Mounting is usually repeated several times (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Gestation is approximately 2 months, and litter size is variable, ranging from two to six. Litters are born in grass lined chambers in warrens, holes in the ground, or old termite mounds. The young are born blind with a sparse amount of hair. They begin to open their eyes around the the 10th day, and have well developed juvenile pelage by 2 weeks of age. Reproduction within a pack is often synchronized so that several females give birth within a few days of each other. The young may be suckled by any lactating female, and they are transported by all pack members. When the pack leaves the den on foraging expeditions, about 1 female per every 8 young will stay behind with the young to care for them. It is also common for one or more adult males to also stay behind with the young and female(s), to help protect the young and increase their chance of survival against predation. Young will begin leaving the den for short excursions around 4 weeks of age, and will begin to regularly accompany the adults foraging when they are around 5 weeks of age. Less than 50% of juveniles survive to the age of 3 months (Skinner & Smithers, 1990).

Average birth mass: 39 g.

Average gestation period: 60 days.

Average number of offspring: 2.5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
289 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Mungos mungo

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hoffmann, M.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) and Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range, is generally common in suitable habitat, there are no major threats, and it is present in several protected areas.
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The banded mongoose is currently widespread, and is not in danger (OregonZoo.com, 1999, Internet).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Recorded densities vary widely between habitats and locations. On the Serengeti plains, Banded Mongooses live at a density of around 3 individuals/km² (Waser et al. 1995). By contrast, a population in Queen Elizabeth N.P., Uganda, lives at higher densities, averaging 18 individuals/km² (Cant 1998, Gilchrist and Otali 2002).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats to the species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Banded Mongooses are present in numerous protected areas across their wide range on the African continent.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Many other species may be carriers of diseases or parasites that may cause problems for humans. However there are no data available about this area specifically regarding the banded mongoose.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Have been shown to become tame pets when hand raised.

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Wikipedia

Banded mongoose

The banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a mongoose commonly found in the central and eastern parts of Africa. It lives in savannas, open forests and grasslands and feeds primarily on beetles and millipedes. Mongooses use various types of dens for shelter including termite mounds. While most mongoose species live solitary lives, the banded mongoose live in colonies with a complex social structure.

Physical characteristics[edit]

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.

Range and ecology[edit]

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 banded mongoose lives in savannas, open forests and grassland, especially near water, but also in dry, thorny bushland but not deserts. The species uses various types of dens for shelter, most commonly termite mounds.[2] They will also live in rock shelters, thickets, gullies, and warrens under bushes. Mongooses prefer multi-entranced termitaria with open thicket, averaging 4 m from the nearest shelter, located in semi-closed woodland.[3] In contrast to the den of the dwarf mongoose, banded mongoose dens are less dependent on vegetation cover and have more entrances.[3] Banded mongooses live in larger groups than dwarf mongooses and this more entrances means more members have access to the den and ventilation.[3] 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.

Mongoose looking out a burrow entrance

Food and foraging[edit]

Banded mongoose feed primarily on insects, myriapods, small reptiles, and birds. Millipedes and beetles made of most of their diet,[2] but they also commonly eat ants, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars and earwigs.[4][5] Other prey items of the mongoose includes frogs, lizards, small snakes, ground bird and the eggs of both birds and reptiles. On some occasions, mongooses will drink water from rain pools and lake shores.[4]

Banded mongoose forage in groups but each member searches for food alone.[4] They forage in the morning for several hours and then rest in the shade. They will usually forage again in the late afternoon. Mongooses use their sense of smell to locate their prey and dig them out with their long claws, both in holes in the ground and holes in trees. Mongoose will also frequent near the dung of large herbivores since they attract beetles.[4] Low grunts are produced every few seconds for communication. Mongoose also feed individually and are not cooperative feeders. When hunting prey that secrete toxins, mongooses will roll them on the ground. Durable prey is thrown on hard surfaces.[6]

Begging[edit]

Banded mongoose females give birth in synchrony, producing large communal litters which remain in dens for 3–4 weeks. When pups emerge from the den, they spend 3–5 days approaching different helpers, after which individual pups form stable associations with a single adult helper (their ‘‘escort’’) and remain associated with that animal until independence (approximately 9–13 weeks). During a foraging session, pups follow escorts closely (usually within 10 cm), begging constantly with a high-pitched, bird-like chirp (average call rate = 34.4 calls/min). Packs forage as a cohesive unit, concentrated within 15–20 m, so all escorts are exposed to begging by the whole litter. Pups receive their food almost exclusively from their escorts. Switching between escorts is rare and lasts for only a single day before returning to the original escort. Escorts do not feed pups associated with another adult.[7]

Social behaviour[edit]

Banded mongooses live in mixed-sex groups of 7–40 individuals (average around 20).[8] Groups sleep together at night in underground dens, often abandoned termite mounds, and change dens frequently (every 2–3 days). 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.

Banded Mongoose Mungos mungo

There is generally no strict hierarchy in mongoose groups and aggression is low. Sometimes, mongoose may squabble over a food. However, typically, the one who claims the food first wins. Most aggression and hierarchical behavior occurs between males when females are in oestrus. Female are usually not aggressive but do live in hierarchies based on age. The older females have earlier estrous periods and have larger litters.[8] When groups get too large, some females are forced out of the group by either older females or males. These females may form new groups with subordinate males.[9]

Banded Mongoose, Mungos mungo subsp. grisonax, photographed at Ingwelala, Umbabat Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

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 groups during fights.[10] Mongooses establish their territories with scent markings that may also serve as communication between those in the same group.[11] In the society of the banded mongoose there is a clear separation between mating rivals and territorial rivals. Individuals within groups are rivals for mates while those from neighboring groups are competitors for food and resources.[11]

Reproduction[edit]

Group in Botswana

Unlike most other social mongoose species, all females in a banded mongoose group can breed.[8] They all enter oestrus around 10 days after giving birth, and are guarded and mated by 1–3 dominant males.[8] The dominant males monitor the females and aggressively defend them from subordinates. While these males do most of the mating, the females often try to escape from them and mate with other males in the group. A dominant male will spend 2–3 days guarding each female.[8] A guarding male will snap at, lunge at or pounce on any males that come near.[8] A non-guarding male may follow a guarding male and his female and may face this aggression. Non-guarding males mate in a more secretive way.[8] This kind of "sneaking" behavior is similar to what subordinate males of the fish species Neolamprologus pulcher do; they also try to mate with females that are guarded by the dominant males.

Gestation is 60–70 days. In most breeding attempts, all females give birth either on the same day[8][12] or within a few days. Litters range 2–6 pups and average 4. For their first four weeks of life, pups stay in the dens. At this time they are guarded at the den by 1–3 babysitters while the other group member go on their foraging trips.[13] After four weeks, the pups are able to go foraging themselves. Each pup is cared for by a single adult "escort" who helps the pup to find food and protects it from danger.[14] Pups become nutritionally independent at three months of age.

Interspecies relations[edit]

In some locations (e.g., Kenya) banded mongooses have been found in close relationship with baboons.[citation needed] 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.

Banded mongooses have been observed removing ticks and other parasites from warthogs in Kenya[15] and Uganda.[16] The mongooses get food, while the warthogs get cleaned.

Status and abundance[edit]

Banded mongooses lives in many of Africa's protected areas.[1] The Serengeti of Tanzania, has a density of around 3 mongooses per km2.[17] In southern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, mongoose numbers are at a similar density at 2.4 km2.[18] Queen Elizabeth National Park has much higher mongoose densities at 18/km 2.[19] Overall the banded mongoose tends to be more abundant in the eastern and south-eastern areas of its range than in more western areas.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hoffmann, M. (2008). Mungos mungo. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  2. ^ a b Neal, E. (1970). "The banded mongoose, Mungos mungo Gmelin." East African Wildlife Journal 8: 63-71.
  3. ^ a b c Hiscocks, K., Perrin, M. R. (1991). "Den selection and use by dwarf mongooses and banded mongooses in South Africa." South African Journal of Wildlife Research 21(4): 119-122.
  4. ^ a b c d Rood, J. P. (1975). "Population dynamics and food habits of the banded mongoose." East African Journal of Wildlife 13: 89-111.
  5. ^ Smithers, R.H.N (1971) The mammals of Botswana, National Museums of Rhodesia. 4:1-340.
  6. ^ Simpson, C.D. (1964) "Notes on the banded mongoose, Mungos mungo (Gmelin)". Arnoldia, Rhodesia 1(19):1-8
  7. ^ Bell, M.B.V., (2007). Cooperative begging in banded mongoose pups. Current Biology, 17: 717–721 DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.03.015
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h CANT, M.A. (2000) Social control of reproduction in banded mongooses. Anim. Behav. 59:147-158
  9. ^ CANT, M.A., OTALI, E. & MWANGUHYA, F. (2001). Eviction and dispersal in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. J. Zool. 254:155-162
  10. ^ CANT, M.A., OTALI, E. & MWANGUHYA, F. (2002). Fighting and mating between groups in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. Ethology 108:541-555
  11. ^ a b Jordan, N.R., Mwanguhya, F., Kyabulima, S., Ruedi, P., and Cant, M.A. (2010) "Scent marking within and between groups in banded mongooses". Journal of Zoology 280:72-83.
  12. ^ GILCHRIST, J.S. (2006). Female eviction, abortion and infanticide in the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo). Behav. Ecol. 17:664-669
  13. ^ CANT, M.A. (2003) Patterns of helping effort in cooperatively breeding banded mongooses. J. Zool. 259:115-119
  14. ^ GILCHRIST, J.S. (2004). Pup escorting in the communal breeding banded mongoose: behavior benefits and maintenance. Behav. Ecol. 15:952-960
  15. ^ Warthog at Wildwatch.com
  16. ^ Banded Brothers episode 1 at bbc.co.uk
  17. ^ Waser, PM, LF Elliott, and SR Creel. 1995. "Habitat variation and viverrid demography". In ARE Sinclair and P Arcese (eds.) Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management and Conservation of an Ecosystem, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 421-447.
  18. ^ Maddock. A. H. (1988). "Resource partitioning in a viverrid assemblage". PhD thesis, University of Natal. Pietermaritzburg
  19. ^ Gilchrist, Jason and Otali, E (2002) "The effects of refuse-feeding on home-range use, group size, and intergroup encounters in the banded mongoose". Canadian Journal of Zoology, 80 (10). pp. 1795-1802.
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