The banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a mongoose commonly found in the central and eastern parts of Africa.
The banded mongoose is a sturdy mongoose. It has large head, small ears, short, and muscular limbs. It has a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. Animals of wetter areas are larger and darker colored than animals of dryer regions. The abdominal part of the body is higher and rounder than the breast area. The rough fur is grayish brown, and there are several dark brown to black vertical bars across the back. The limbs and snout are darker, while the under parts are lighter than the rest of the body. Banded mongooses have long strong claws that allow them to dig in the soil.
An adult animal can reach a length of 11.81 to 17.72 in (30 to 45 cm) and a weight of 3.31 to 4.96 lb (1.5 to 2.25 kg). The tail is 5.91 to 11.81 in (15 to 30 cm) long.
Distribution and habitat
The banded mongoose lives in open savannas, open forests and grassland. They are found especially near water, but also in dry, thorny bush land. The species is common in areas with many termite mounds. The mounds serve as housing and food. The banded mongoose is found in a large part of East, Southeast and South-Central Africa. There are also populations in the northern savannas of West Africa.
The development of agriculture in the continent has had a positive influence on the number of banded mongooses. The crops of the farmland serve as an extra food source.
The banded mongoose is a diurnal animal, but on hot days it is only active during the morning and evening. It is a gregarious species that roams in family groups of about 30 animals. When a group contains more than 40 animals, it will usually split into two smaller groups of 15 to 20 individuals. Members of a group can recognize their companions by a distinctive group scent.
The core of a group consists of one dominant male and three or four dominate females. Only the dominant females are allowed to produce offspring. The hierarchy among the members of the group is based on age, size, and assertiveness. After a pregnancy period of two months, four young are born. They are breastfed by all milk-producing females of the group. Adult animals often play with the young.
The diet of the banded mongoose consists mainly of invertebrates, like insects (termites and larvae of beetles), centipedes, lizards, snakes, frogs and sometimes mice. They dig up most of the food with their strong claws. Sometimes they also eat roots and fruit. One of their favorite snacks is a bird’s egg.
Banded mongooses search for food in small, loose groups. To stay in contact, they use a wide variety of sounds.