Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 7:48 EDT

Indian Gray Mongoose, Herpestes edwardsii

The Indian gray mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii), also known as the common gray mongoose, occurs in many areas of southern Asia, although it does appear in other areas of Asia. Its range includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. It prefers a habitat within open forested areas, and scrublands, but can also be found in human populated areas like cultivated fields. This species is often kept as pets and can be found on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

The Indian gray mongoose can reach an average body length between fourteen and seventeen inches, with a tail length of up to seventeen inches and a weight between two and four pounds. Males are typically larger than females. This species can be tan or yellowish gray in color, with a red tipped tail and a lighter underbelly. It can see in color, which is a rare trait among mammals. The Indian gray mongoose prefers to make dens within burrows, thickets, groves, bushes, and rocks, and can also be found in drains. It is typically found in pairs or alone and can breed throughout the year. This species is usually curious, but will not explore very far from its den.

The Indian gray mongoose is carnivorous and consumes snakes, lizards, rodents, and bird eggs and recently born hatchlings. It has a keen sense of sight and smell, and will close its ears when searching for food in soil, preventing water and dirt from entering its ears. Although this species does eat snakes, even poisonous species, its main diet consists of rodents and other prey that can be foraged from underground burrows and other hidden areas. When hunting, it will chase down prey if necessary, biting the neck in order to break it. When it consumes eggs, it will throw the eggs against a hard surface to crack them open. It is aware of prey, remaining alert for any chance to hunt.

Image Caption: Description coreected as Indian Gray Mongoose or Common Grey Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii in Hyderabad , India. Credit: J.M.Garg/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Indian Gray Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii