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 )
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.
Habitat and Ecology
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
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).
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 11.0 years.
Status: captivity: 12.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Mungos mungo
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
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
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
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.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Have been shown to become tame pets when hand raised.
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.
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
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. 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. In contrast to the den of the dwarf mongoose, banded mongoose dens are less dependent on vegetation cover and have more entrances. Banded mongooses live in larger groups than dwarf mongooses and this more entrances means more members have access to the den and ventilation. 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.
Food and foraging
Banded mongoose feed primarily on insects, myriapods, small reptiles, and birds. Millipedes and beetles made of most of their diet, but they also commonly eat ants, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars and earwigs. 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.
Banded mongoose forage in groups but each member searches for food alone. 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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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. Mongooses establish their territories with scent markings that may also serve as communication between those in the same group. 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.
Unlike most other social mongoose species, all females in a banded mongoose group can breed. They all enter oestrus around 10 days after giving birth, and are guarded and mated by 1–3 dominant males. 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. A guarding male will snap at, lunge at or pounce on any males that come near. 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. 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 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. 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. Pups become nutritionally independent at three months of age.
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.
Status and abundance
Banded mongooses lives in many of Africa's protected areas. The Serengeti of Tanzania, has a density of around 3 mongooses per km2. In southern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, mongoose numbers are at a similar density at 2.4 km2. Queen Elizabeth National Park has much higher mongoose densities at 18/km 2. Overall the banded mongoose tends to be more abundant in the eastern and south-eastern areas of its range than in more western areas.
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