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I Dream Africa provides a comprehensive directory of activities, hot spots, top locations etc. in Namibia. Combined with the directory, I Dream Africa also provides tour packages allowing clients to experience Namibia at its best.
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Mongoose

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BANDED MONGOOSE

Introduction: Banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) are a sturdy little animal with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. They live in regions of dry, thorny bushland, open savannah, or open forest and grassland areas, especially near water. The banded mongoose is especially common in areas with many termite mounds that serve as housing and food.
Banded mongooses are gregarious and live in mixed-sex groups of between 6-40 individuals, averaging ±20). These groups sleep together at night in underground dens, which are often abandoned termite mounds. They are known to change den frequently, up to every 2-3 days, is not unusual.

Distribution: The banded mongoose lives in open savannah, open forests and grassland, especially near water, but also in dry, thorny bushland. Namutoni Restcamp in Etosha National Park is a good place to see them close up.

Diet: They dig up most of their food, such as insects and grubs, with their strong claws. They are also partial to snails, small reptiles, wild fruits and the eggs and young of ground nesting birds.

Coloring: Their rough fur is grayish brown, with several dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. The limbs and snout are darker, while the underparts are lighter than the rest of the body.

Breeding: Litters of between 2 and 8 pups are born in grass-lined chambers in their warrens, in holes in the ground or in termite mounds. Gestation periods are 60 - 70 days and all females in the group give birth on the same day.

Size: Adults are around 55cm long in total length, including the tails which can account for 60% of the length of the head and the body. Both male and female are similar in size and a weight of 1.5 to 2.5kg.

DWARF MONGOOSE


Introduction: The dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) is the smallest of the African mongooses. It is stocky, with a fairly short, pointed muzzle and a long, fluffy tail. They live in groups of some 10 to 15 individuals, in large areas that overlap with the ranges of other groups. Their home range usually contains 20 or more termite mounds, which are used as den sites, sentry posts and sources of food. The group cooperation system is a great example of small species survival as they are constantly on the look out for predators such as birds of prey and snakes. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests and semi-arid areas.

Distribution: They are widespread in the northern areas of Namibia.

Diet: Dwarf mongoose mainly feed on insects such as beetles, grubs, termites, locusts, larvae and spiders. Whilst on foraging sorties, they keep in contact using a series of short 'chirrup' calls, just one of many vocalizations they use.

Coloring: Dwarf mongooses usually have a speckled brown or reddish coat.

Breeding: For every dwarf mongoose pack there is a dominant breeding pair, usually the oldest in the pack. This particular female normally produces 3 litters of young, with 2 to 4 infants in each litter. Gestation periods are 50 to 54 days. At the same time, subordinate breeding females, which come into oestrus at the same time as the dominant female, mate with other subordinate males in the pack. For some unknown reason, these matings seldom produce live young. It is not certain if they fail to conceive or abort early in pregnancy and on the rare occasions when they do produce live young, it has been recorded that the new pups have either died instantly or been killed.

The dominant female spends little time with her young other than suckling them so they can forage for food. It is the subordinate females that takeover the baby caring duties. The babysitters change often during the day and it is not unusual for subordinate males to take their turn. The babysitters turn into guardians and defenders of the young.

Size: The dwarf mongooses are not more than about 40cm in length, with a tail of about half that length, with a mass of about 300g.

LARGE GREY MONGOOSE


Introduction: The large grey mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) as are other mongooses, has an associating with snake killing. There is a short story in the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling about the heroic adventures of a mongoose called Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, who eventually kills 2 cobras, Nag and Nagaina. Kipling, besides making exceedingly good cakes, knew that their long fur protects mongooses against snake bites, making them less vulnerable to snake venom.

Distribution: Well-watered areas such as grasslands and reed fringing waters as well as woody vegetation along rivers and streams, typical of the far eastern regions of the Caprivi Strip, Chobe and Zambezi riverbanks and the Okavango Delta.

Diet: Feeds on small mammals that weigh up to 4kg, such as scrub hare and rock dassie but prefers rodents. The large grey mongooses also eat birds, frogs and reptiles. Studies have concluded that they do eat snakes, but are not a major food source.

Coloring: Grey body hair interrupted by annulated black and white hairs. The large grey mongoose has black legs and a black head.

Breeding: Possibly 2 or 3 young born in a litter.

Size: Short in stature due to its short legs, but a shoulder height of 25cm and overall length of 1m. The tail measures up to 90% of the total head and body length including the black tassel. Weight: 3kg.

SELOUS’S MONGOOSE

Introduction: Very little is known or has been studied about Selous's mongoose (Paracynictis selousi). It inhabits grassed savannah and semi-closed woodland, in areas prevalent with short to medium length grasses.

Distribution: Seasonal floodplains and grasslands of far north-eastern Namibia across to the Caprivi Strip and beyond.

Diet: Insects and other invertebrates as well as small mice and rats, frogs, reptiles and birds.

Coloring: A pale to grizzled-grey to tawny-grey fur with dark brown to black legs and a bushy white-tipped tail.

Breeding: Females give birth to litters of between 1-4 young.

Size: Average total length of 78cm. Weight: 1.8kg.

SLENDER MONGOOSE


Introduction: The slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) is a very common species of mongoose, with a long and slender body, (hence the name) and short legs. They are active during the day but if there is sufficient moonlight they will also hunt at night. Slender mongooses readily climb trees, unlike other mongoose species. There are up to 40 subspecies of the slender mongoose and eagles rank amongst their main predators.

Slender Mongoose is found mostly on savannah and semi-arid plain type areas. They live alone or in pairs and are non-territorial, although they will maintain a home range that is overlapped by others.

Distribution: They have a wide distribution in Namibia except for in the Namib Desert and along the Orange River in the south.

Diet: The slender mongoose has a similar diet to most other mongooses and feed upon insects, snakes, lizards, birds, rodents, amphibians, carrion, eggs and occasionally fruit.

Coloring: The colour of their fur varies greatly between the different subspecies from dark reddish/brown to an orange/brown, yellow and grey. They often appear speckled. The tail has a prominent black or red tip.

Breeding: Slender mongoose can breed several times per year and after a gestation period of 60 - 70 days, a litter of between 1 - 3 pups are born in a den. Males do not take part in caring for their young as it is the sole responsibility of the female. Dens are in sheltered areas such as a hollow log or a crevice between rocks. They are known to share their dens with other species of mongooses.

Size: The slender mongoose has a body length of between 28 and 40cm. The tail has is between 23 and 33cm and they weigh between 460 and 715g. Adult males tend to be slightly larger than adult females.

SURICATE OR MEERKAT


Introduction: The suricate (Suricata suricatta) is sometimes referred to by its Afrikaans name of meerkat, or ant cat, referring to it's ant-eating diet and associated foraging by sifting sand and 'probing crevices'. They have long front claws, a rounded, broad head tapering to a short, sharp-pointed muzzle accentuated by dark circles around the eyes.

Suricate generally avoid desert and dense bush but it's presence in the Namib Desert can be accounted for by a tendency to burrow in dry river beds. Much is made of their social habits which include a babysitting and feeding service; helpers remaining with the kittens whilst others forage for food or keep sentry duty.

Distribution: Common through Namibia and does occur in the Namib Desert, but absent from the entire north-eastern region of the country.

Diet: Insects such as beetles, small Namibian reptiles (geckos). Tubers and bulbs of plants.

Coloring: Body fur is brown-grey with some dark fringes on the back, with a slightly darker tail.

Breeding: Between 1 and 3 litters are produced annually depending on rainfall, peaking in January to March.

Size: Total length of 450-550mm. Tail: 200-240mm. Weight: 620-960g.

Show-biz news: The Lion King, released in 1994 by Disney, featured a meerkat called Timon. The Clan of the Meerkats, a television series was created in 2005 and aired on Animal Planet. Other documentaries, adult novels and TV adverts followed.

WATER MONGOOSE


Introduction: The water mongoose (Attlax paludinosus) is a small mammal with a preference for permanent freshwater habitats bordered by dense vegetation, such as marshes reed beds, and estuaries. There have been, however, some sightings of them being recorded in hilly areas with little or no aquatic wildlife presence. Their claws are short and blunt and used for digging.

It is a solitary animal and spends most of its active time during periods of darkness and twilight, or although some activity has been observed during the day. As you would expect from their name, they are excellent swimmers, but nonetheless they prefer to keep their head above water, and frequently rests on patches of grass and floating vegetation.

The water mongooses are creatures of habit and follow smooth and well-defined paths near shorelines and other water bodies, frequently hidden by vegetation. Their territories are rigidly enforced, exclusive, and usually spaced along the waters around which they dwell. If cornered or otherwise seriously frightened, this mongoose may shoot streams of foul, brown fluid from its anal sacs and when excited, they may make a high-pitched cry or an open-mouthed bleat.

Distribution: In Namibia the water mongoose is not surprisingly confined to the extreme north and north-east along the Kunene and Kavango Rivers and in the south along the Orange River.

Diet: This species of mongoose craves great quantities of food and consumes any form of meat it can catch, as well as a wide variety of fruit. They frequently swim along river banks, with its head above the water, patiently and methodically sifting through underwater holes and crevices looking for aquatic animals to eat. They are an intelligent creature, and have been observed throwing crabs and snails against rocks in order to break open the shells.

Other observations claim that the water mongoose will at times lay very still with its tail up, offering its pink anal region (a startling contrast against the dark fur), which tempts birds to come near and have a peck. When the birds approach, they are killed and consumed, before they've had a chance for some beak/anus interaction.

Coloring: The water mongoose has dark brown fur which is lighter on the undersides. The guard hairs are black-tipped and are long and coarse on the body and short about the hands and feet.

Breeding: Little is known of their breeding habits, but it is widely believed the 2 litters are produced a year, 1 in the dry season and the other in the wet season. They construct bedding of dry grass in a hole for birthing, always near water. If a hole is unavailable near water, a nest of reeds, grass, and sticks will be constructed. Up to 3 offspring per litter have been recorded.

Size: The water mongoose weigh weighs around 2.5 - 4kg,
with a body measuring 46 - 62cm and a tail measuring 32 - 53cm.

WHITE TAILED MONGOOSE

Introduction: Although not strictly nocturnal the white-tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda) tends to be more active from dusk until around midnight. It is so-called because of its distinctive white tail, which is very evident when it is foraging around at night. Mongooses make good use of their anal scent glands when marking their own territories.

Distribution: The well-watered woodlands and savannahs of the Caprivi Region.

Diet: Insects, termites, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets, frogs, snakes and rodents

Coloring: A dark grey body with black legs. Characteristic white tail.

Breeding: Litters of between 1-3 are born after a gestation period of 2 months. Mating usually happens in November.

Size: Males and females are both around 1.1m in total length.

Weight: 4.3kg.

YELLOW MONGOOSE

Introduction: The yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) is a small mammal that lives in colonies of up to 20 individuals, in a permanent underground complex of burrows. They have often been observed cohabiting with meerkats and ground squirrels, sharing maintenance of the burrow and adding new tunnels as necessary. The burrow has many entrances and it is the yellow mongoose that will make a latrine near one of them. When the yellow mongoose feels threatened, they will growl and secrete from their anal glands. On other occasions they can also, bark, scream and purr, and these usually quiet creatures communicate through tail movements.

Burrows are constructed on dry, open grasslands and semi-desert scrub land areas. Up to 12 subspecies of the yellow mongoose have been recorded and they can be distinguished by their size, colour, length of tail and hair. The southern subspecies tend to be larger than their northern counterparts. Yellow mongooses are also known as the red meerkat (which is confusing to everyone except the colour blind) and its predators include birds of prey, jackals, and snakes.

Distribution: The yellow mongoose is widespread in Namibia except for in coastal areas.

Diet: The yellow mongoose mainly feeds upon insects including, ants, termites, beetles and locusts. Birds, frogs, lizards, small rodents and eggs supplement their diet.

Coloring: The coat of the yellow mongoose is yellowish/tawny/grey with their underside, chin and limbs being lighter in colour. The tail is bushy with a white tip.

Breeding: The yellow mongooses' mating season usually occurs between July and September and after a gestation period of 42 - 57 days, a litter of 2 young are born in a cleared out underground den.

Size: The yellow mongoose has an average body length of between 23 - 33cm and they weigh between 450 – 800g. Their tails are between 18 - 25cm.

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