Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo
The Banded Mongoose is found on Kenya's open grasslands and forest areas, usually near water. Weight: 3.5lbs (1.6kg). Shoulder Height: 8" (20cm). Total Length: 26" (65cm). Tail Length: 10" (25cm). Body colour varies between grizzled-grey to grey-brown, with between 10-12 brown or black bands on the back. A fairly bushy tail, usually darker towards the tip. A pointed head, with short, rounded ears. Longevity
All female Banded Mongooses in the group breed - and unusually, give birth on the same day. The gestation period is 9 weeks and up to four litters a year are dropped by each female, producing 2 - 6 pups in each litter, each pup weighing around 30gms. The young remain in a burrow for up to a month, guarded by males of the group, before venturing out. Only half of the pups born reach 3 months old, due to predation. Pups are fed by any lactating female in the group. Banded Mongooses live up to 11 years, if held in captivity. Predators Leopard
, Serval Cats
, Wild Dogs, Martial Eagles
. Youngsters are predated by Snakes, Monitor Lizards
and rival groups of Banded Mongooses. Behaviour
Banded Mongooses are very social animals, living in 'groups' of between 5-30 individuals, sometimes more. If a group gets too large, it is the young females that are pushed out. The group live in old termite mounds, which are easy to dig tunnels into, with their sharp claws. Their burrow has a number of different entrances and contains a central sleeping chamber, along with smaller chambers. They change homes frequently, having several within their home range. Their range size varies, according to the number of individuals in the group, but can be as much as 400 hectares.
The Banded Mongoose has an anal scent gland, which it uses frequently, to mark rocks and logs of its range - and other members of the group. Ranges are protected vigorously, often resulting in death. Despite which, females will often mate with males from another group, even when fights are taking place. A group recognise their own scents and use this knowledge to find each other, or their burrows, if they get lost while foraging.
When foraging, the Banded Mongoose continuously utilises a series of calls, to stay in contact with other members of the group. The most common call sounds like a grunt-twitter churr, although a variety of other calls can be distinguished. Diet
Banded Mongooses eat mostly insects and other invertebrates. Beetles, snails, birds eggs and small reptiles also feature in their diets. They dig with their front paws, which feature claws up to an inch (25mm) long, for food. Elephant dung is a favourite target and they break up the mounds feverishly, looking for grubs and beetles. Anything poisonous (frogs & millipedes) is rolled around or bashed on a rock. The Mongoose will often habitat with Warthogs
, cleaning them up from their fleas and insects. They emerge from their burrows at day-break and forage as a group for a few hours in the morning, rest during the heat of the day, then forage again in the late afternoon, before returning to their burrow before sunset. Photographs
Photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara and Olare Orok Conservancy.