Out on an early morning walk recently this little dwarf mongoose was spotted ferreting around an ant hill. Dwarf mongooses are carnivores. Interestingly, a dwarf mongoose can have a home range that can cover up to 75 acres – that’s a big area for a relatively small animal! They are gregarious and territorial, often found in groups of up to 15 mongooses. There is a hierarchy within these groups, with a dominant pair at the top which are usually the oldest. Found in most parts of Africa, they don’t have a particular preference for habitats, being quite content in both forests and then semi-arid areas. They often live inside termite mounds like the one in the photos and they are diurnal.
Their scientific name is Helogale parvula, and they can range from 8 to 12 inches in length. Their small size is how they derive their name, as they are the smallest species of mongoose and are one of Africa’s smallest carnivores. They can live to up to 8 years and their main predators are snakes and birds of prey. All members of the group help with raising pups and guarding them against predators. Females born into the group usually stay and move up in rank as they age, but males will disperse and start new groups. Dwarf mongooses breed in the wet season and can have up to three litters at a time. Usually only the dominant female becomes pregnant, however, if conditions are good some of the subordinate females may also reproduce. Initially the young remain underground in termite mounds and are guarded by a member of the band whilst the others go off hunting.