Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)
Dwarf Mongooses are (along with the Desert Dwarf Mongoose) the smallest Mongoose in Kenya. Just 2.5" (70mm) to its shoulder and 14.5" (37cm) long, including a tail taking up half its length. Its coat is short, glossy and ranging from grey-brown to dark brown and some with a red tint. Its eyes are a reddish-brown. Long, black, curved claws on the front feet are used to dig out dens and forage for food.
Dwarf Mongooses are seen all over Kenya, wherever there is savanna or open woodland.
Dwarf Mongooses have up to 2 litters a year, generally coinciding with the rainy season. An average of 3 pups, but up to 7 in a litter, dropped after 50 days. At 6 weeks old, the pups are weaned, having been foraging with their mother from 4 weeks old.
Mongooses live to 10 years old in the wild (18, in captivity).
The main predators of Dwarf Mongoose are Jackals, Birds of prey, snakes (particularly the Cobra) and surprisingly, larger Mongoose species.
Dwarf Mongooses are very sociable animals, living in troops of between 10 - 40 individuals. Each troop occupies a territory of between 5 - 75 acres. Inside the territory, the troop will have up to 20 dens. Dens are usually dug out of old termite mounds.
The troop has both a dominant male and female and surprisingly, it is the female that is the more dominant. It is her, out of all troop members that breeds and she will often kill the young of subordinate females. But all females are responsible for looking after the young.
Dwarf Mongooses are diurnal and love to sun bathe, when they first exit their den, first thing in the morning.
Dwarf Mongooses eat insects, other larger invertebrates (grasshoppers, beetles etc;) and occasionally, small reptiles (lizards, rodents etc;) and some fruits. They will also take birds and in particular, bird's eggs. Surprisingly, although the Dwarf Mongoose eats snakes, even up to Cobra size, the Cobra is also a predator of this Mongoose.
Other Dwarf Mongoose Facts
Dwarf Mongooses make calls that sound like a twittering 'peep', for contact and 'churr' when alarmed. Many other calls have been recorded and each is used to communicate different meanings or warnings to other troop members.
Both anal and cheek glands are used to mark territories - and other members of the troop.
It is quite normal to see a troop feeding and one or more keeping sentry-watch for both terrestrial a aerial predators.
Images taken in Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.
Keywords:dwarf mongoose, kenya, mongoose, wildlife