The dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula), sometimes-called common dwarf mongoose to distinguish it from the desert dwarf mongoose (H. hirtula) is a small African carnivore belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae).
The dwarf mongoose is a typical mongoose. It has a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, short limbs, and long paws. The species can be distinguished from other mongooses by its size. It is much smaller than most other species. The soft fur is very variable in color, ranging from yellowish red to dark brown. The limbs and belly are lighter colored. The back is usually speckled.
Distribution and habitat
The dwarf mongoose is primarily found in dry grassland, open forests, and bush land, up to 6,561 ft (2,000 m) high. It is especially common in areas with many termite mounds, their favorite food. The species avoids dense forests and dry areas. Dwarf mongooses can also be found in the surroundings of settlements, and are quite tame.
The species ranges from East to southern Central Africa. They range from Eritrea and Ethiopia to Transvaal and South Africa.
The Dwarf Mongoose is a diurnal animal. It is a social species that lives in family groups of two to twenty animals. A group consists of more females than males. There is a strict hierarchy within a group, headed by a dominant pair. The dominant female is the leader of the group, while the dominant male is very cautious and is often inspecting the surroundings from higher ground.
A group mainly resides in the neighborhood of a burrow. These burrows are often termite mounds but sometimes hollow places between stones, hollow trees. A group often lives near a bee or wasp nest, which protects them against predators. Burrows near farms are popular for the same reason, as long as there are no dogs and cats. The territory has the size of a few hectares. Some territories overlap slightly, which can lead to confrontations between different groups.
Only the dominant female is allowed to give birth. After the pregnancy period of 53 days, six young mongooses are born.
The diet of the dwarf mongoose consists of insects (mainly termites, grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, scorpions, small lizards, small birds and rodents, supplemented with fruit.