NameYellow Mongoose [Cynictis penicillata]
AppearanceThe Yellow Mongoose has a total length is 400-600 mm, with a tail length of 180-250 mm. Mass is about 450-900 g. Has a triangular shaped face with a pointed snout. When running the tail is held horizontal to the ground. Throughout the southern and central range the coat is a reddish-yellow to a tawny-yellow colour, and the fairly brushy tail has a very distinctive white tip. In the northern parts the tail is not as white tipped and the body colour is greyish. The paler chin, throat and upper chest prevails throughout the range.
DietFeeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates, but it will also readily hunt amphibians, rodents and reptiles.
Breeding:Litters of two to five are born from October to January in the south portion of its range. In the northern areas birthing extends through to March. Births have exceptionally been recorded each month of the year, even though birthing peaks clearly exist.
Behaviour:Some nocturnal movement has been recorded during full moon, but this species is fundamentally diurnal.
Where they are found:Endemic to the central and western regions of Southern Africa. Particularly common in agricultural areas of the Western Cape and Free State, where it probably benefits from insect pests in wheat- and maize fields. Numbers are estimated to be 100 000. Absent from the Namib desert coastal strip, neither does it occur in the high-rainfall southern coastal areas of the Eastern Cape, most of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Northern Province's lowveld area.
Field notesThe Yellow Mongoose is also known as the Red Meerkat in places due to its reddish tinge. The body colouring varies from yellow to reddish brown - presumably depending on diet and minerals.
It is believed that the Yellow Mongoose is an asymptomatic carrier of rabies, i.e. it carries rabies but is not affected by the virus. This is cause for concern in many areas where they occur and there is a danger that they will be severely persecuted because of this.