Dwarf Mongoose

Name

Common Dwarf Mongoose [Helogale parvula]

Appearance

The Common Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) is the smallest of the mongoose family, and both males and females weigh only 350-400gr. Total length is 250mm and the tail is about the same length as the body. They reach adulthood in the second year of life. Their coat colour is uniform all over, and can be light brown to a dark chestnut.

Diet

They feed on invertebrates such as beetles, their larvae, termites and grasshoppers. Insect prey is scavenged on the ground, and sometimes dug out. Small vertebrates are also taken on occasion. Troop members are always on the alert for predators while foraging.
©Nigel Dennis

Breeding

After a gestation period of 63 days, gravid females give birth to a litter of two to three. An alpha female can have two to three litters per year. They breed mainly in the rainy season. Only the dominant pair breeds in each pack; the rest of the group members assist in rearing and fending for the young. Pairs without helpers cannot successfully raise young.

Behaviour

Common Dwarf Mongoose are a diurnal, gregarious and territorial species, which forages in groups. Group sizes can be as large as 20. The roaming pack spends the night in disused termite mounds scattered through its territory.

Habitat

The Dwarf Mongoose prefers dry woodland savannah.
©Roger de la Harpe

Where they are found

The continental distribution of the Dwarf Mongoose reaches its southernmost limits in the woodlands of the Northern and Northwestern Provinces, Mpumalanga and northern Kwazulu-Natal. They are more widespread in northern countries.

Vital Statistics


Weight (Female)
210 - 340 g

Weight (Male)
210 - 340 g

Length (Female)
38 cm

Length (Male)
38 cm

Gestation Period
1,5 months

No of Young
2 - 4 young

Order
Carnivora

Family
Viverridae

©Nigel Dennis

Breeding

2 - 4 young are born from October - March after a gestation period of ± 8 weeks.

Spoor Description

Common Dwarf Mongoose have 5 toes on the fore-feet, the first being small and lying behind the intermediate pad. The first toe and the proximal pad of the front feet, which may show when the animal is moving slowly, may not show when it is trotting or running. Has 5 toes on the hind-feet, but only the claw of the first toe may show, well back of the other 4 toes. The claws of the front feet are long, curved and sharp, measuring up to 10 mm across the curve and are adapted to digging. Those on the hind-feet are shorter, up to about 8 mm.
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