Dwarf mongoose: everything you need to know about this small animal

Dwarf mongoose: everything you need to know about this small animal

Just as its name suggests, the dwarf mongoose is among the smallest species of mongoose. It is also the smallest African carnivore. These creatures may be tiny, but they possess big personalities. Similar to their meerkat relatives, this species is implausibly friendly and curious.

dwarf mongoose

Image: instagram.com, @tapleybenjamin
Source: UGC

Dwarf mongooses commonly live in groups and are often seen playing and grooming one another or hunting for insects. You will often spot one standing on its two legs with its muzzle up in the air, just like squirrels. So adorable!

About the Dwarf mongoose

Their common scientific name is "helogale parvula," while the Somali/desert specie's scientific name is "helogale hirtula." These small creatures are hunted for food in some regions of Africa. They are also considered pests in areas where they live near humans and steal eggs.

READ ALSO: Top 20 things to do in Langebaan

Dwarf mongoose size

The adaptive animal has a length of 7–11 inches, and it is 18 to 28 centimetres long, from the nose to the tail. It is the smallest of the group species. Their tails are approximately 4.7 to 8 inches long. They weigh about 275 grams, and the females are believed to be slightly smaller.

Dwarf mongoose lifespan

Despite their habitat and how common their predators are, they can live up to an impressive ten years of age. Some of them may even go as far as 18 years of age. These creatures may have danger at every corner of their eyes, but they sure do know how to live through them.

Dwarf mongoose characteristics

The most distinctive features include the tiny ears, pointed muzzles, and teeth that are adapted to their carnivore-based diet. They have long and furry tails which are usually dark, as well as their lower limbs, while their undersides are paler. These mammals have soft and glistening fur which varies in colour, ranging from reddish buff to speckled dark brown.

READ ALSO: 15 of the best hiking trails and walking trails in South Africa

Dwarf mongoose adaptations

dwarf mongoose facts

Image: instagram.com, @jmpeitso
Source: UGC

Pertaining to their natural habitat, these tiny creatures are well adapted to survive their niche. They have strong jaws that aid them in easily killing their prey. Their fur is loose and dense to protect them from snake venom so that the venom only goes to the fur and not into the bloodstream.

Dwarf mongoose habitat

Dwarf mongooses are found in Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and eastern South Africa. They inhabit forests, thickets, open woodlands, dry grasslands, and wooded savannahs, and they prefer to settle in areas where there are termite mounds. They use hollow logs for shelter as well. These species are nomadic and thus move from den to den in search of their basic needs.

Dwarf mongoose diet

Well, they may be small but are nowhere near the bottom of the food chain. These mammals are carnivores in nature. They hunt and kill their prey by biting them to the head. Their better part of the day is usually spent on looking for food within the leaves, termite mounds, and rocks.

READ ALSO: All snakes of South Africa: Poisonous and harmless 2019

Dwarf mongoose predators

dwarf mongoose adaptations

Image: instagram.com, @photophant25
Source: UGC

Just like every other animal on this planet, these adorable animals are not free from being preyed upon by other superior animals. Their predators are mostly birds of prey, snakes, jackals, and larger mongoose species. Raptors and monitor lizards also feed on them.

Dwarf mongoose facts

Below are some dwarf mongoose fun facts:

  • These little beauties are the smallest of their species and the smallest carnivores in Africa.
  • They are diurnal.
  • They are carnivores and mostly prey on insects, among other creatures.
  • Staying together makes them highly sociable. They live in packs that are made up of 8 to 30 individuals.
  • The oldest members of the pack are the dominant ones and are the ones who breed. The groups are matriarchal.
  • Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 18 years.
  • Common dwarf and hornbills have a mutual relationship. They help each other look for food and alert each other in case of any pending dangers.
  • Hornbills usually assemble at termite mounds, where these mongooses like to shelter, and sometimes even give them wake up calls. In the case of a no-show for the hornbills, the tiny creatures are usually reluctant to come out of their homes.
  • The dominant male in the pack is usually the lookout for any potential harm. He normally stands at the top of the termite mound, and if he senses danger vocalizes, he warns the rest of the members.

What does a dwarf mongoose eat?

Insects are the primary food for these animals. They may also feed on spiders, scorpions, rodents, reptiles, and eggs. These creatures occasionally feed on fruits like berries and will mostly do without water but will drink it when it is available.

READ ALSO: Are rain spiders dangerous?

Can mongooses kill snakes?

Mongooses and snakes have been known to be enemies from the start of their existence. The grey mongoose is especially known to fight and kill venomous snakes.

What gives them this ability is their well-adapted thick coats, agility, and specialized acetylcholine receptors (designed to receive messages from nerves giving out a response by the muscles), which make them immune to snake venom. They also work together to fight snakes, giving them an advantage of their own.

Are dwarf mongooses endangered?

The dwarf mongoose species is quite dominant throughout its range and has no significant danger to its existence. It is even classified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a Least Concern species.

Dwarf mongooses are pleasantly looking small animals that contribute majorly to the ecosystem. They may appear insignificant, and to some African households, a nuisance, but they bring in benefits despite their destructive ways.

READ ALSO: Top 20 extinct and endangered animals in South Africa with images

Source: Briefly.co.za

Online view pixel