Yellow Mongoose

Cynictis penicillata

The lithe little Yellow Mongoose can grow to lengths of up to 75cm, and adults weigh from 440 to 900g. They inhabit a wide variety of open habitats, from semi-desert scrub to grasslands and savannas. They are independent of drinking water, and feed mainly on insects, other invertebrates, rodents, small birds and reptiles and frogs, and occasionally carrion and fruit. They have been known to raid chicken runs.

Yellow Mongooses are diurnal and live in colonies that number from 5 to 50, lead by a dominant breeding pair. Within their home ranges, colonies usually have several extensive burrow systems that they normally dig themselves, but often share with meerkats and ground squirrels. They usually forage alone and when threatened while out foraging they will hide in any available thicket or hole.

Litters of 1 to 5 pups are usually born in the summer, and while it is usually only the dominant pair that breeds, all group members assist with the care of the babies. Yellow Mongooses’ main predators are raptors and jackals, while snakes and monitor lizards will take babies from the burrows. Yellow Mongooses are notorious carriers of rabies. They have a natural life expectancy of about 12 years.

Yellow Mongooses occur in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and marginally into adjacent areas of Angola and Zimbabwe. They occur all over South Africa, with the exception of the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo and the coastal plain of Kwazulu-Natal. The IUCN lists the species as being of least concern.

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