Common dwarf mongoose

The common dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula), sometimes just called the dwarf mongoose, is a small African carnivore belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae).

Common dwarf mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) (6002158282)
Common dwarf mongoose in Kruger National Park
Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
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Species:
H. parvula
Binomial name
Helogale parvula
Sundevall, 1847
Common Dwarf Mongoose area
Common dwarf mongoose range

Physical characteristics

The common dwarf mongoose is a typical mongoose: it has a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, short limbs and long claws. The species can be distinguished from other mongooses by its size. It is much smaller than most other species (18 to 28 cm, 210 to 350 grams); in fact, it is Africa's smallest carnivorous mammal. The soft fur is very variable in color, ranging from yellowish red to very dark brown.

Distribution and habitat

The common dwarf mongoose is primarily found in dry grassland, open forests, and bush land, up to 2,000 m in altitude. It is especially common in areas with many termite mounds, their favorite sleeping place. The species avoids dense forests and deserts. The common dwarf mongoose can also be found in the surroundings of settlements, and can become quite tame.

Dwarf mongoose1
Dwarf mongoose from the Sabi Sands region of South Africa.

The species ranges from East to southern Central Africa, from Eritrea and Ethiopia to the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the Republic of South Africa.

Subspecies

  • Helogale parvula parvula
  • Helogale parvula ivori
  • Helogale parvula mimetra
  • Helogale parvula nero
  • Helogale parvula ruficeps
  • Helogale parvula undulatus
  • Helogale parvula varia

Behaviour

Helogale parvula, Serengeti
Common dwarf mongoose in the Serengeti

The common dwarf mongoose is a diurnal animal. It is a highly social species that lives in extended family groups of two to thirty animals. There is a strict hierarchy among same-sexed animals within a group, headed by the dominant pair (normally the oldest group members). All group members cooperate in helping to rear the pups and in guarding the group from predators.

Young mongooses attain sexual maturity by one year of age but delay dispersal, with males usually emigrating (in the company of their brothers) at 2–3 years old. Dispersing males may join other established groups, either as subordinates or by ousting the resident males, or they may found new groups with unrelated dispersing females. In contrast, females normally remain in their home group for life, queuing for the dominant position. They will, however, emigrate to found a new group if they lose their place in the hierarchy to a younger sister.

Dwarf mongooses are territorial, and each group uses an area of approximately 30-60 hectares (depending on the type of habitat). They sleep at night in disused termite mounds, although they occasionally use piles of stones, hollow trees, etc. The mongooses mark their territory with anal gland and cheek gland secretions and latrines. Territories often overlap slightly, which can lead to confrontations between different groups, with the larger group tending to win.

Dwarf mongooses tend to breed during the wet season, between October and April, raising up to three litters. Usually only the group's dominant female becomes pregnant, and she is responsible for 80% of the pups reared by the group. If conditions are good, subordinate females may also become pregnant, but their pups rarely survive. After the gestation period of 53 days, 4-6 young are born. They remain below ground within a termite mound for the first 2–3 weeks. Normally one or more members of the group stay behind to babysit while the group goes foraging. Subordinate females often produce milk to feed the dominant female's pups. At 4 weeks of age the pups begin accompanying the group. All group members help to provide them with prey items until they are around 10 weeks old.

A mutualistic relationship has evolved between dwarf mongooses and hornbills, in which hornbills seek out the mongooses in order for the two species to forage together, and to warn each other of nearby raptors and other predators.[2]

Diet

The diet of the common dwarf mongoose consists of insects (mainly beetle larvae, termites, grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, scorpions, small lizards, snakes, small birds, and rodents, and is supplemented very occasionally with berries.

Publications

  • Anne Rasa: Mongoose Watch: A Family Observed, John Murray, 1985, ISBN 0-719-54240-5.
  • Anne Rasa: Intra-familial sexual repression in the dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) in Naturwissenschaften, Volume 60, Number 6, p. 303-304, Springer, 1973.

References

  1. ^ Creel, S. & Hoffmann, M. (2008). "Helogale parvula". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Anne O, Rasa E (1983). "Dwarf mongoose and hornbill mutualism in the Taru desert, Kenya." Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12 (3): 181–90.
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Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)

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Lutrogale

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Mongoose

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Herpestidae is placed within the suborder Feliformia, together with the cat, hyena, and Viverridae families.

Mustelinae

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Nyctereutes

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Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.

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The three species in this genus are found in Arctic and subarctic regions, as well as around the Caspian Sea. This includes these countries and regions: Russia, Scandinavia, Britain, Greenland, Canada, the United States, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Japan. Due to changing local environmental conditions, the ringed seals found in the Canadian region has varied patterns of growth. The northern Canadian ringed seals grow slowly to a larger size, while the southern seals grow quickly to a smaller size.

Only the Caspian seal is endangered.

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Viverra

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Zalophus

Zalophus is a genus of the family Otariidae (sea lions and fur seals) of order Carnivora. It includes these species, of which one became recently extinct:

Z. californianus: California sea lion

Z. japonicus: Japanese sea lion †

Z. wollebaeki: Galápagos sea lion

Extant Carnivora species
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