Egyptian mongoose

The Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), also known as ichneumon, is a mongoose species native to the Iberian Peninsula, coastal regions along the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Turkey, tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands in Africa. Because of its widespread occurrence, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[1]

Egyptian mongoose
Herpestes ichneumon Египетский мангуст, или фараонова крыса, или ихневмо́н
Scientific classification
H. ichneumon
Binomial name
Herpestes ichneumon
Egyptian Mongoose area
Egyptian mongoose range
(green – native, red – possibly introduced)

Viverra ichneumon Linnaeus, 1758


Egyptian mongoose skull

The Egyptian mongoose's long, coarse fur is grey to reddish brown and ticked with brown and yellow flecks. Its snout is pointed, its ears are small. Its slender body is 48–60 cm (1 ft 7 in–2 ft 0 in) long with a 33–54 cm (1 ft 1 in–1 ft 9 in) long black tipped tail. Its hind feet and a small area around the eyes are furless. It has 35–40 teeth, with highly developed carnassials, used for shearing meat. It weighs 1.7–4 kg (3.7–8.8 lb).[2]

Sexually dimorphic Egyptian mongooses were observed in Portugal, where some females are smaller than males.[3]

Distribution and habitat

The Egyptian mongoose lives in swampy and marshy habitats near streams, rivers, lakes and in coastal areas. Where it inhabits maquis shrubland in the Iberian Peninsula, it prefers areas close to rivers with dense vegetation. It does not occur in deserts.[2]

It has been recorded in Portugal from north of the Douro River to the south, and in Spain from the central plateau, Andalucía to the Strait of Gibraltar.[4][5]

In North Africa, it occurs along the coast from Western Sahara to Tunisia, and from northern Egypt across the Sinai Peninsula.[1] In Egypt, one individual was observed in Faiyum Oasis in 1993. In the same year, its tracks were recorded in sand dunes close to the coast near Sidi Barrani.[6] An individual was observed on an island in Lake Burullus in the Nile Delta during an ecological survey in the late 1990s.[7] In the Palestinian territories, it was recorded in the Gaza Strip and Jericho Governorate in the West Bank during surveys carried out between 2012 and 2016.[8] In western Syria, it was observed in the Latakia Governorate between 1989 and 1995; taxidermied specimens were offered in local shops.[9] In southern Turkey, it was recorded in the Hatay and Adana Provinces.[10]

In Sudan, it is present in the vicinity of human settlements along the Rahad River and in Dinder National Park.[11] It was also recorded in the Dinder–Alatash protected area complex during surveys between 2015 and 2018.[12] In Ethiopia, the Egyptian mongoose was recorded at an altitude of 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in the Ethiopian Highlands.[13]

In Senegal, it was observed in 2000 in Niokolo-Koba National Park, which mainly encompasses open habitat dominated by grasses.[14] In Guinea’s National Park of Upper Niger, the occurrence of the Egyptian mongoose was first documented during surveys in spring 1997. Surveyors found dead individuals on bushmeat markets in villages located in the vicinity of the park.[15] In the floodplains and gallery forests of Benin’s Pendjari National Park and adjacent hunting zones, it was among the most abundant small carnivores recorded by camera-traps in 2014 and 2015.[16]

In Gabon’s Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, it was recorded only in savanna habitats.[17] In the Republic of Congo, it was repeatedly observed in the Western Congolian forest–savanna mosaic of Odzala-Kokoua National Park during surveys in 2007.[18]

In the 1990s, it was considered a common species in Tanzania's Mkomazi National Park.[19]

Occurrence in Iberian Peninsula

Several hypotheses were proposed to explain the occurrence of the Egyptian mongoose in the Iberian Peninsula:

  • TraditionalIy, it was thought to have been introduced following the Muslim invasion in the 8th century.[20]
  • Bones of Egyptian mongoose excavated in Spain and Portugal were radiocarbon dated to the first century. The scientists therefore suggested an introduction during the Roman Hispania era.[21]
  • Other authors proposed a natural colonisation of the Iberian Peninsula during the Pleistocene across a land bridge when sea levels were low between glacial and interglacial periods. This population would have remained isolated from populations in Africa after the last Ice Age.[22]

Behaviour and ecology

Herpestes ichneumon - Egyptian Mongoose
The Egyptian mongoose is active during the day

The Egyptian mongoose is diurnal.[23] In Doñana National Park, single Egyptian mongooses, pairs and groups of up to five individuals were observed. Adult males showed territorial behaviour, and shared their home ranges with one or several females. The home ranges of adult females overlapped to some degree, except in core areas where they raised their offspring.[24]

It preys on rodents, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. It also feeds on fruit and eggs. To crack eggs open, it throws them between its legs against a rock or wall.[2] In Doñana National Park, 30 Egyptian mongooses were radio-tracked in 1985 and their faeces collected. These samples contained remains of European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), sand lizards (Psammodromus), Iberian spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes), greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula), three-toed skink (Chalcides chalcides), dabbling ducks (Anas), western cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), wild boar (Sus scrofa) meat, Algerian mouse (Mus spretus) and rat species (Rattus).[25] Research in southeastern Nigeria revealed that it also feeds on giant pouched rats (Cricetomys), Temminck's mouse (Mus musculoides), Tullberg's soft-furred mouse (Praomys tulbergi), Nigerian shrew (Crocidura nigeriae), Hallowell's toad (Amietophrynus maculatus), African brown water snake (Afronatrix anoscopus), and Mabuya skinks.[26] It attacks and feeds on venomous snakes, and is resistant to the venom of Palestine viper (Daboia palaestinae), black desert cobra (Walterinnesia aegyptia) and black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis).[27]


Captive males and females reach sexual maturity at the age of two years.[28] In Doñana National Park, courtship and mating happens in spring between February and June. Two to three pups are born between mid April and mid August after a gestation of 11 weeks.[29] They are hairless at first, and open their eyes after about a week. Females take care of them for up to one year, occasionally also longer. They start foraging on their own at the age of four months, but compete for food brought back to them after that age. In the wild, Egyptian mongooses probably reach 12 years of age. A captive Egyptian mongoose was over 20 years old.[2] Its generation length is 7.5 years.[30]


In 1758, Carl Linnaeus described an Egyptian mongoose from the area of the Nile River in Egypt in his work Systema Naturae and gave it the scientific name Viverra ichneumon.[31] H. i. ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758) is the nominate subspecies. The following zoological specimen were described between the late 18th century and the early 1930s as subspecies:[32]

In 1811, Johann Karl Wilhelm Illiger subsumed the ichneumon to the genus Herpestes.[43]


A survey of poaching methods in Israel carried out in autumn 2000 revealed that the Egyptian mongoose is affected by snaring in agricultural areas. Most of the traps found were set up by Thai guest workers.[44] Numerous dried heads of Egyptian mongooses were found in 2007 at the Dantokpa Market in southern Benin, suggesting that it is used as fetish in animal rituals.[45]


The Egyptian mongoose is listed on Appendix III of the Berne Convention, and Annex V of the European Union Habitats and Species Directive.[1] In Israel, wildlife is protected by law, and hunting allowed only with a permit.[44]

Cultural references

Mummified remains of four Egyptian mongooses were excavated in the catacombs of Anubis at Saqqara during works started in 2009.[46] At the cemetery of Beni Hasan, an Egyptian mongoose on a leash is depicted in the tomb of Baqet I dating to the Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt.[47]

Egyptian mongoose-IMG 6340

Bronze statue with uraeus and solar disc, Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt

Egyptian mongoose-IMG 6334

Bronze statue, Ptolemaic Dynasty

Egyptian - Ichneumon - Walters 54410

A Late period statue dedicated to the goddess Wadjet, exhibited in Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

The American poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem as an elegy for an ichneumon, which had been brought to Haverhill Academy in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1830. The long lost poem was published in the November 20, 1902 issue of "The Independent" Magazine. In Christopher Smart's poem, Jubilate Agno, the poet's cat Jeoffry was praised in line 63: "For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land," for a purported attack on an Egyptian mongoose.

See also


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  2. ^ a b c d Palomares, F. (2013). "Herpestes ichneumon Egyptian Mongoose (Ichneumon)". In J. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds). The Mammals of Africa. V. Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 306−310. ISBN 9781408189962.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Bandeira, V., Virgós, E., Barros, T., Cunha, M.V. and Fonseca, C. (2016). "Geographic variation and sexual dimorphism in body size of the Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon in the western limit of its European distribution". Zoologischer Anzeiger. 264: 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2016.06.001.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Borralho, R., Rego, F., Palomares, F. and Hora, A. (1995). "The distribution of the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (L.) in Portugal" (PDF). Mammal Review (25): 229−236. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.1996.tb00143.x.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Balmori, A. and Carbonell, R. (2012). "Expansion and distribution of the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) in the Iberian Peninsula". Galemys. 24: 83−85. doi:10.7325/Galemys.2012.N08.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Kasparek, M. (1993). "The Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, in western Egypt". Zoology in the Middle East. 9 (1): 31–32.
  7. ^ Basuony, M.I. (2000). "Herpestes ichneumon ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758)". Ecological Survey of Burullus Nature Protectorate. Mammals. Cairo: Nature Conservation Sector, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency. p. 19.
  8. ^ Albaba, I. (2016). "The terrestrial mammals of Palestine: A preliminary checklist". International Journal of Fauna and Biological Studies. 3 (4): 28−35.
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  11. ^ Elnaiem, D.A., Hassan, M.M., Maingon, R., Nureldin, G.H., Mekawi, A.M., Miles, M., Ward, R.D. (2001). "The Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, is a possible reservoir host of visceral leishmaniasis in eastern Sudan". Parasitology. 122 (5): 531–536.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ Bauer, H., Mohammed, A.A., El Faki, A., Hiwytalla, K.O., Bedin, E., Rskay, G., Sitotaw, E. and Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2018). "Antelopes of the Dinder-Alatash transboundary Protected Area, Sudan and Ethiopia" (PDF). Gnusletter. 35 (1): 26–30.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
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External links


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Asiatic linsang

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Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

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Gaza Zoo

The Gaza Zoo was a leisure complex, series of public gardens, children's amusement park and zoo created by the government of Gaza in the spring of 2010 on government property that was formerly a garbage dump. It closed in 2016.There also is or was a small private zoo, known as Marah Land Zoo located off Salahadin Street in the Gaza City district of Zeitoun. The zoo's animals, like the local people, have suffered as a result of the difficulties in Gaza and the zoo has featured often in reports by the international media. The zoo was badly damaged during the 2008-09 war.

The zoo's stock, in addition to the two lions has included several eagles, some doves, some foxes, Egyptian mongoose, some cats, dogs, ponies, wolves, geese, tortoises, turtles, deer, monkeys, chickens, pheasants, peacocks and a camel.


Ichneumon may refer to:

Ichneumon (genus), a genus of wasps

Ichneumonidae, family of Ichneumon wasps

Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon

Indian gray mongoose, Herpestes edwardsii

Ichneumon (medieval zoology), the enemy of the dragon in medieval literature

Ichneumon (medieval zoology)

In medieval literature, the ichneumon or echinemon was the enemy of the dragon. When it sees a dragon, the ichneumon covers itself with mud, and closing its nostrils with its tail, attacks and kills the dragon. The ichneumon was also considered by some to be the enemy of the crocodile and the asp, and attack them in the same way. The name was used for the "pharaoh's rat", mongoose, or Egyptian mongoose, which attacks snakes; it can also mean "otter".


The superfamily Ichneumonoidea contains the two largest families within Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae and Braconidae. The group is thought to contain as many as 100,000 species, many of which have not yet been described. Like other parasitoid wasps, they were long placed in the "Parasitica", variously considered as an infraorder or an unranked clade, now known to be paraphyletic.

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Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

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Mephitis (genus)

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Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus, and the species Suricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English.

Six species in the family Eupleridae are endemic to the island of Madagascar. These are called "mongoose" and were originally classified as a genus within the family Herpestidae, but genetic evidence has since shown that they are more closely related to other Madagascar carnivorans in the family Eupleridae; they have been classified in the subfamily Galidiinae within Eupleridae since 2006.

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


Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).

Narrow-striped mongoose

The narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) is a member of the family Eupleridae, subfamily Galidiinae and endemic to Madagascar. It inhabits the Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western and southwestern Madagascar, where it lives from sea level to about 125 m (410 ft) between the Tsiribihina and Mangoky rivers. In Malagasy it is called bokiboky (pronounced "Boo-ky Boo-ky").

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Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

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.

White-tailed mongoose

The white-tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda) is on average the largest species in the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Ichneumia.

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