Tag Archives: slender mongoose

Hey you – get off my mound!

One of the things that we love about game reserves is the interaction between the various animals and birds.  There is always an animal or bird that is intent on eating another one, or encroaching on the others territory.  Animals guard their territories very fiercely and we saw this quite plainly in an interaction between a Southern pale chanting goshawk and a Slender mongoose in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

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We stopped to watch the goshawk that was perched on a termite mound, not realizing that a little drama was about to unfold before our eyes.  With binoculars and camera trained on the bird, we noticed an agitated mongoose run around the base of the termite mound and stand up on its back legs to chase the goshawk off.  The mongoose obviously felt threatened by the goshawk in some way, even though it looked pretty innocuous to us.

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Now we’re not up on ‘mongoose speak’ but the photograph shows the mongoose giving the goshawk a verbal lashing for intruding on its termite mound.  What was said was apparently sufficient to scare the bird off, because it took to the air very quickly.

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Once it had gone, the mongoose took possession of its termite mound and claimed victory after its little turf war.  Mongoose 1 – Southern pale chanting goshawk 0!

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Fascinating to watch as it all unfolded.  We apologise for the poor quality of the photographs, but they were taken quite a distance away from all the action.

 

The mongoose project

We had to stay in Windhoek over Christmas and New Year, which, to nomads like ourselves who enjoy being outdoors in nature, is tantamount to hell!  However, a chance sighting of a Yellow mongoose in our garden a few days before Christmas gave rise to an idea – we decided to put some food out to see if we could attract it and get some close up photographs.  Little did we know what pleasure this would give us over an otherwise quiet time alone.

Yellow mongoose

We placed some left-over burger meat on the ground, Rob set his camera up on a tripod and we waited for our dinner guest.  It took about an hour for the mongoose to arrive.  It was very nervous and detoured through the flower bed to grab a piece of meat before disappearing back under the garden wall.  Having obviously enjoyed the tasty morsel, it followed this procedure until the food was gone.  Rob, in the meantime, had been clicking away and getting some magnificent shots.

Yellow mongoose - our guest arrives

On day two cold chicken was on the menu and sure enough, right on cue, our little mongoose arrived.  We could see by its size that it was a juvenile.  Still nervous, the meal took more than an hour to eat as the mongoose kept running off with each piece of meat.  There was great excitement when halfway through the meal a Slender mongoose arrived on the scene.

Slender mongoose

They are quite different in colouring – being darker and having a black tip on their tail as opposed to the white tip on the tail of the Yellow mongoose.  The Slender mongoose also has a very different face with a pink nose.

Slender mongoose

By day three we’d almost run out of meat so used cat pellets to supplement the meal.  We were delighted when our Yellow mongoose (note how possessive we had now become!) brought a friend along to eat.  They weren’t too nervous and stayed eating at the dish, all the while ‘talking’ to each other with little cooing noises.  When alarmed by something, they made a completely different warning sound as they ran off.  At one stage our cat went outside and one of the little mongooses bushed out its tail and rushed at him in a threatening manner.  I was somewhat alarmed by this as I wouldn’t want any harm to come to our beloved cat.

Yellow mongoose - sharing with a friend

On the fourth day no less than six mongooses arrived.  Our little garden was completely overrun by these animals and we decided that we’d taken enough photos and would stop the feeding/photography project.  It’s amazing how quickly the word spreads when there is food to be had.  One or two still come nosing around during the day looking for food and it’s very difficult not to feel sorry for them and throw a few cat pellets their way.

Slender mongoose

If you’d like to read more about the variety of mongooses that we’ve seen, click on The Heroic Mongoose and Namibia’s Largest Endemic Carnivore.

 

 

 

The Heroic Mongoose

“He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits. His eyes and the end of his restless nose were pink; he could scratch himself anywhere he pleased, with any leg, front or back, that he chose to use; he could fluff up his tail till it looked like a bottle-brush, and his war-cry, as he scuttled through the long grass, was: ‘Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!'”

Congratulations if you recognized that quote from the short story in “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling, a description of the heroic Rikki-Tikki-Tavi that leads a short while later to the graphic description of the little mongoose’s fight-to-the-death with Nag, the cobra. No prizes for knowing who won! Written well over a hundred years ago, the Jungle Book remains an absolute classic.

The story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is, of course, set in India, but Namibia too has an abundance of mongooses.

We are always interested to see which of our blogs attract the largest number of hits, and one of the most searched items is the humble mongoose!  This is quite surprising as a mongoose is not a  particularly exciting animal to look at, but obviously it generates a lot of interest on the Internet.

These little mammals are quite common in Namibia and we even see them in the grounds of our townhouse complex on the outskirts of Windhoek.  The most common variety in this area is the yellow mongoose, easily distinguished by its light yellowish coloured coat and the white tip on its tail.  They are very shy animals and will scurry away quickly, or duck into whatever shelter is closest, as one approaches   We often see them in pairs when we go on our walks to the nearby Avis Dam.

Yellow Mongoose

Further north at Etosha, in the Caprivi region and on the eastern border of Namibia the banded mongoose is more common, very similar in looks to the slender mongoose, except that it has a number of stripes on its back.

Banded Mongoose

This creature, unlike its cousin the yellow mongoose, prefers woodland and riverine forest as its habitat.  It also breeds during the summer months and has between two and eight young.   The gestation period for all breeds of mongoose is approximately eight weeks.  Their diet consists of lizards, beetles, termites, birds eggs, mice and fruit.

Eggs present no real challenge.and the mongoose will often pick up the egg in its front paws and then slam it  onto a rock or onto the ground to break it open.

Eggs are part of their diet

Eggs are part of their diet

At the Harness Wildlife Foundation we were amused to see dozens of slender mongooses follow the voluntary helpers around at feeding time – it looked like a scene out of  the Pied Piper of Hamelin!

Slender Mongooses at Harness

They are extremely sociable animals and live in groups of twenty or more.

Yellow Mongoose

We unfortunately don’t have photographs of yet another variety of mongoose found in Namibia, namely the black mongoose, due to it’s elusiveness and rarity.  The black mongoose is endemic to Namibia and is found mainly in the Erongo mountains.  Not much is known about this species so a number of scientists are conducting studies on the black mongoose at the moment.  We have seen them on three different occasions, which makes us feel extremely priviliged.