Mongoose, Dwarf

Helogale parula


At just 40 cm long including the tail the dwarf mongoose is the smallest and most numerous carnivore of Africa. They are very social with all pack members caring for the young, foraging together and grooming one another. Group sizes average 12 and are led by the alpha female, the largest of all pack members.

Fact file about the dwarf mongoose

1. Amazing jumpers

A dwarf mongoose can bounce as high as 90cm off the ground, not a bad feat for an animal that is just 7 cm high at the shoulder.

2. Groom off over the deceased alpha

When there is a dispute over who should take over from a deceased alpha female a groom off will ensue. The two combatants could groom each other for up to four days. The winner will be the one that proves themselves more persistent. Both will end drenched in saliva.

3. Dwarf mongoose use tools to break eggs

Dwarf mongoose will break eggs by throwing them backwards through their legs at hard objects.

4. Mutualism between mongoose and hornbill

Both the red billed and yellow billed hornbills have a mutually beneficial relationship with the dwarf mongoose.

They forage together, during which the hornbills will snap up insects that are flushed by the mongoose. The hornbills return the favour by sounding alarms for raptors which are a threat to the mongoose.

Safari guide Michael Anderson shares photographs and and a description of this mutualism in action.

5. Baby sitting for the alpha female dwarf mongoose

Other dwarf mongoose pack members spend more time looking after the alpha female’s young than she does. This means that she’s free to feed for longer which boosts her milk production.

Subordinate dwarf mongoose act as baby sitters to the alpha’s young. When she rolls onto her side to indicate she is ready to suckle the babysitters will bring her young to her.

6. A wide vocabulary

The vocabulary of the dwarf mongoose is excellent. They use small changes to denote whether the predator is terrestrial or aerial. The sentinel constantly emits all clear squeaks so that others in the pack need not look up from their foraging.

7. Elongated field of vision

They can spot both aerial and terrestrial predators by having a pupil which is horizontally elongated. This gives them an elongated field of vision.

Dwarf mongoose playing dead

https://youtu.be/BjkuMFZBJ3k

Related posts

Safari guide Michael Anderson shares photographs and and a description of this mutualism in action in the following blog, click the quote for the full story:

… As they forage through the shrubs and grass, the hornbill perches on branches above, snapping up any unfortunate insects, disturbed by the mongoose….

Check out Michaels profile on our blog author pages and his photographs on his Instagram.

Conservation status : Least concern
Length : 40 cm (including a 17 cm tail)
Weight : 270 g to 340 g
Life span : 6 years
Gestation : 8 weeks
Young : 2 to 4

Vote for the fact you find most fascinating

They can spot both aerial and terrestrial predators by having a pupil which is horizontally elongated. This gives them an elongated field of vision.

Other dwarf mongoose pack members spend more time looking after the alpha female’s young than she does. This means that she’s free to feed for longer which boosts her milk production.

The vocabulary of the dwarf mongoose is excellent. They use small changes to denote whether the predator is terrestrial or aerial. The sentinel constantly emits all clear squeaks so that others in the pack need not look up from their foraging.

Dwarf mongoose will break eggs by throwing them backwards through their legs at hard objects.

Both the red billed and yellow billed hornbills have a mutually beneficial relationship with the dwarf mongoose. They forage together, during which the hornbills will snap up insects that are flushed by the mongoose. The hornbills return the favour by sounding alarms for raptors which are a threat to the mongoose

Subordinate dwarf mongoose act as baby sitters to the alpha’s young. When she rolls onto her side to indicate she is ready to suckle the babysitters will bring her young to her.

A dwarf mongoose can bounce as high as 90cm off the ground, not a bad feat for an animal that is just 7 cm high at the shoulder.

When there is a dispute over who should take over from a deceased alpha female a groom off will ensue. The two combatants could groom each other for up to four days. The winner will be the one that proves themselves more persistent. Both will end drenched in saliva.