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Banded Mongoose

  • Animals

Introduction to Banded Mongoose

The banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a small carnivorous mammal found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of the family Herpestidae, and is the only mongoose species native to Africa. It is a mostly diurnal animal, with an inquisitive and adaptable nature. The banded mongoose has a unique way of living in groups and caring for their young. It is an important indicator species of healthy savannah ecosystems and an important source of protein for local people.

Physical Description and Behaviour

Banded mongooses have a reddish-brown coat, with light brown underparts and a white tip on their tail. They have short fur, short legs, and a pointed muzzle, with a small snout. Males and females are similar in size, growing to about 26 centimetres in length, including the tail. The mongooses live in large groups of up to about 50 individuals, but can be found in groups of up to 250. The species is highly social, and lives in a hierarchical society, with a dominant male, or alpha, at the top of the social hierarchy.

The banded mongoose uses a variety of vocalizations and body language to communicate with each other. When danger is detected, the alpha mongoose will give a high-pitch alarm bark, and the entire group will flee. During the wet season, the banded mongoose displays elaborate greetings by rubbing its body and muzzle against the ground, and then sniffing the ground.

Habitat and Distribution

Banded mongooses can be found in sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Somalia, and south to South Africa. They prefer open savannahs and woodlands, avoiding dense forests and desert habitats. They are typically found near water sources and in areas with plenty of grass and shrubs for cover. Banded mongooses typically make their dens in abandoned termite mounds, or burrows dug by other animals.

Feeding Habits and Diet

The banded mongoose is a carnivore, feeding primarily on spiders, small rodents, eggs, and carrion. They have also been known to scavenge in human settlements, hunting small invertebrates and stealing food scraps. Banded mongooses also feed on insects, such as grasshoppers, which they use as a source of fat and protein. During the dry season, when food is scarce, they will also eat fruits and seeds.

Banded Mongoose two


Banded mongooses mate between December and February. The gestation period lasts for three weeks and the female mongoose gives birth to 1-2 young. The young are born deaf and blind and the female mongoose is responsible for caring for them. The mother mongoose is typically assisted by other members from her group; other female mongooses will help the mother feed and groom the young, while the males will help protect the group.

Threats and Conservation

The banded mongoose is classified as of ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN Red List, but it faces a number of threats. These include habitat loss, as deforestation and land use change reduce the area of suitable habitat available, and also hunting and poisoning, as humans target the species for its fur and as a pest species. Some of the larger mongoose groups have also been observed raiding hen-houses and stealing eggs.

To protect the banded mongoose, national parks, wildlife reserves and community-based conservation initiatives have been set up in parts of its range. These protected areas help to ensure the survival of the species and reduce human-wildlife conflict.


The banded mongoose is a fascinating and hardy species, which plays an important role in African ecosystems as both predator and prey. Its complex social behaviour and tendency to form large groups is often seen as a sign of intelligence, and it has also been an important ingredient of traditional medicine and diet for many indigenous African cultures. With continued conservation efforts, the banded mongoose should be able to survive and thrive in the future.

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