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mongoose facts

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The mongoose ( Suricata suricatta ) is a small foraging mammal that inhabits the harsh conditions of the open, arid semi-desert plains of South Africa. Meerkats are different from other mongooses in that they are very sociable animals. Most meerkats prefer to live alone, and meerkats are one of only 3 species known to live in groups. Meerkats are divided into three different subspecies that are geographically distributed, and while they are very similar in appearance, they have slightly different coat colors and markings. In addition to the mongoose ( Suricata suricatta ), there are the slender-tailed and gray mongoose. Yet all live in highly organized communities known as gangs or gangs, and they depend on each other to survive in such dire conditions because while most are out foraging, others stand guard Be wary of approaching predators.

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anatomy and appearance

The mongoose is a small animal with an elongated body and a long, light tail that ends in black and is almost twice the total length of the animal. Meerkats are sandy to light brown in color, with eight darker stripes on the back, brindle on the sides (unique to each meerkat), and a lighter face and rump. They have elongated muzzles, black noses and dark bands around the eyes. Mongooses are animals with long, sharp claws on their front paws, curved claws that can grow up to 2 centimeters long, which help them dig burrows and find small animals buried under soft sand. The meerkat's fur has actually adapted significantly to different desert conditions, not only helping to keep the animal cool on hot days, but also acting as an insulating layer to keep it warm on cold winter nights.

Meerkat looking back at the camera
Mongooses assign guards to watch out for predators.

© iStock.com/slowmotiongli


Meerkats belong to the mongoose family ( Herpestidae ), which is a branch of the cat family – the cat family. This includes all species of cats, hyenas, cats and mongooses. Meerkats evolved from cats nearly 45 million years ago—the first modern mongoose appeared 11.5 million years ago.

Suricata Suricatta major is an extinct species of mongoose whose fossil remains were found at the southern tip of Africa and is the direct ancestor of modern mongooses. This extinct mongoose is very similar to the banded mongoose from which it evolved. As the climate changes and warms, mongooses make adjustments to successfully adapt to their new environment.

The cutest animal_Mongoose
Meerkats are highly sociable animals that usually inhabit desert areas in groups of 10 to 30 individuals

© Zsolt Biczo/Shutterstock.com

Distribution and Habitat

The mongoose is an animal found in southern and western Africa, inhabiting the dry, harsh scrub of the Kalahari Desert. Meerkats, which span five different countries in southern Africa from Angola to South Africa, can be found throughout this vast, arid region, foraging on the ground during the day and hiding in giant burrows in the sand at night. Conditions in the Kalahari Desert are extremely extreme, with summer temperatures reaching as high as 40 degrees Celsius (70 degrees in the sand) and temperatures well below zero to -10 degrees on cold winter nights. Annual rainfall in this part of Africa is extremely low, with only a few drops usually falling between January and April, after which the Kalahari desert briefly transforms into a lush, vibrant region before the cooler winters set in.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Unlike the other three species of mongoose, mongooses are highly gregarious animals that inhabit desert areas, usually in groups of 10 to 30 individuals (although larger groups are not uncommon in areas with plentiful food supplies), and Consisting of three or four family units, a male and female pair, and their children. After emerging from their burrows to sunbathe in the early morning sun, most of the band go foraging while others either babysit the young or act as guards. By standing upright on their hind legs and tail on top of mounds and in bushes, mongoose guards are able to have a good vantage point to watch out for approaching predators, especially from the sky. One of a series of different sirens would then sound to alert the others of what the danger was, usually causing the whole band to dive into an underground cave and hide.

You can check out some incredible facts about mongooses.

What do mongooses eat?
Meerkat pups eat solid food like insects, are only three weeks old, and feed on their mother's milk for the first few weeks of life.

© iStock.com/Lubos Kovalik

Reproduction and Life Cycle

While there may be many breeding pairs in a herd, meerkat societies are usually dominated by a single male and female pair. Young meerkats are usually born in November after a gestation period lasting about 11 weeks. After mating with her mate in early summer, the female meerkat gives birth to 2 to 5 pups in the grass of the burrow, which are born blind and without full fur. Unlike the rearing of many other small mammal species, both females and males tend to raise their young with males and siblings who help teach young meerkats skills to survive in the surrounding desert. While most of the band are out foraging, the young meerkats never leave the den, playing in the hot sand with designated sitters watching closely. Meerkats can live up to 10 years in the wild, but they have been known to live longer in captivity.

diet and prey

The mongoose is a carnivore, which means that despite its small size, it only forages and eats small animals to get all the nutrients (and most of the water) it needs to survive. Like other mongoose species, mongooses have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to sniff out potential prey lurking beneath the surface of the sand. Once spotted, mongooses use their long, sharp front claws to scoop out their prey, and consume most of their diet of insects and other small invertebrates, but also eat larger animals such as lizards and rodents. Due to their small size and adaptation to living in such a harsh environment, mongooses must spend most of their waking hours foraging, as they are known to lose about 5% of their body weight during the night, and therefore must ensure They have enough food every day.

Harris hawk perched on a tree
Eagles and other birds of prey are the mongoose's main predators.

© iStock.com/Jay Pilstorff

Predators and Threats

Due to their small size, mongooses are natural prey for many ground and aerial animals. The biggest threats to mongooses are birds of prey such as hawks and hawks, which can spot the animals from overhead, and ground-based predators such as snakes that prey on them on the ground. In an attempt to protect themselves from being less vulnerable in the open and dry environment, mongooses employ a strategy of more people than others, and make sure that one person is always on guard to warn others of any approaching danger. In close proximity to growing human settlements and livestock grazing areas, mongooses can become infected with cattle disease and rabies, which can affect entire populations of these adaptable and resilient animals.

Mongoose guards will sound the alarm with howls and barks, warning the group of approaching danger.


Interesting Facts and Features

If an alert mongoose sees approaching danger, they alert other mongooses. Meerkats have been known to use a wide range of sounds to communicate with each other, emitting long howls to warn the rest of the band of an approaching raptor, and short double barks to alert them that a pack of predators on the ground is approaching. Proximity. The individual territories of a meerkat group cover a large enough area to ensure that the group has everything they need for their most successful survival. This includes areas of hard and soft sand, because while hard sand provides the perfect surface for building tunnels, mongooses also require more energy to forage in it. Digging in softer sand requires less effort, thus meaning they can conserve more energy for other activities.

mongoose family
The BBC series Mongoose Manor shows the real joys of living with a mongoose.

© Super Prince/Shutterstock.com

relationship with humans

Meerkats are one of those species that has always captivated people with their unique behavior, making them one of Africa's most iconic small mammals. The BBC series Mongoose Manor shows the real joys of mongoose life, which involves stalking and photographing a herd of mongoose in the Kalahari Desert. Although they are not as seriously threatened by human activity as many other African unique species, mongooses are susceptible to diseases from other animals, which can have devastating effects on local populations.

Protect the status quo and life today

Today, the mongoose is listed by the IUCN as an animal of least concern and will become extinct in its natural environment in the near future. Although they are widespread and common throughout most of their natural range, populations in certain areas may be affected by poor rainfall or increased numbers of natural enemies. However, populations appear to be generally stable throughout southern Africa, with large numbers of meerkats also found in some large national parks.

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Meerkat FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are mongooses herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Mongooses are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.

To which kingdom do mongooses belong?

Meerkats belong to the animal kingdom.

Which category do mongooses belong to?

Mongooses belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum do mongooses belong to?

Meerkats belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do mongooses belong to?

Meerkats belong to the mongoose family.

What order do mongooses belong to?

Meerkats belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do mongooses have?

Meerkats are covered with fur.

What genus do mongooses belong to?

Mongooses belong to the genus Mongoose.

Where do mongooses live?

Meerkats live in southwestern Africa.

What type of habitat do mongooses live in?

Mongooses live in semi-deserts and scrublands.

Who are the mongoose's natural enemies?

Predators of mongooses include eagles, jackals and snakes.

How many children does a meerkat have?

The average number of babies a mongoose has is 3.

What are some interesting facts about mongooses?

A mongoose will stand guard for predators!

What is the mongoose's scientific name?

The mongoose's scientific name is Suricata suricatta.

What is the lifespan of a mongoose?

Meerkats can live 10 to 14 years.

What is the name of the little mongoose?

Smaller mongooses are called kits.

How many species of mongoose are there?

There are 3 species of mongoose.

What is the biggest threat to mongooses?

The biggest threat facing mongooses is climate change.

What is another name for mongoose?

The mongoose is also known as a suricate.

How fast are mongooses?

Meerkats can travel at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.

What is the difference between mongoose and meerkat?

Although mongooses and meerkats belong to the same family, mongooses are larger and heavier than meerkats. While most meerkats are solitary animals, mongooses thrive in complex social groups.

What's the Difference Between a Mongoose and a Marmot?

The biggest differences between mongooses and marmots include their appearance, burrowing habits, and lifespan.

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  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animals, The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) Encyclopedia of World Animals
  3. David Burney, Kingfisher (2011) The Animal Encyclopedia of Kingfishers
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) Atlas of Threatened Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia
  7. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) Encyclopedia of Mammals
  8. Meerkat information, available here: http://www.meerkats.net/info.htm
  9. For meerkats, it is available here: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/meerkat/
  10. Mongoose Protection, available here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/41624/0