The dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) has its origin in Africa, and is found to be the smallest of all mongoose species found on that continent. In fact, it holds the title for the smallest carnivore of Africa. It is differentiated from the remaining species by its small size. Also known as the common dwarf mongoose, it flaunts a wide array of coat colors, right from smooth reddish to speckled brown and glossy black.
Dwarf Mongoose Information
The dwarf mongoose has a compact body buildup. Its body weight is similar to that of a squirrel, i.e., roughly about 1 lb. As for length, it measures about 8 - 12 inches. Identifiable features of this African mongoose include a short, pointed muzzle, large head, rounded ears, and extra long, fluffy tail that tapers gradually. Its limbs are relatively short, but bear long, non-retractable claws.
Habitat and Diet
As stated earlier, this small mongoose is a native of Africa. It is found in almost entire sub-Saharan region. Its habitat usually comprises moderately dry areas and forests. Its diet is highly versatile. It feeds on a wide range of spiders, insects, scorpions, small lizards, snakes, rodents, and birds. In times of food scarcity, this mongoose feasts on ripe berries as well.
Even though it is primarily a diurnal species, it is known to display nocturnal traits at times. It is usually found in groups, with each group having anywhere between 2 - 30 individuals. A single group occupies an area of about 30 hectares. Each of these groups has a leader pair dominating the group. The lead female is responsible for bearing young ones. Subordinate females do give birth to young ones, but their survival rate is very low. Generally, 80 percent of pups in a group are born to the dominant pair. However, every member of the group is responsible for their upbringing. At times, the subordinate females are seen feeding the young pups.
The dwarf mongoose shares a mutual relationship with the hornbill, wherein both hunt together for prey and even give each other warning signals if there are predators lurking around. Naturally gifted with good eyesight, the mongoose can spot predators from considerable distance, both in air and on the forest floor. It trots at a good speed and also has the ability to climb trees quickly.
You can identify the den sites of the species from the presence of termite mounds. Being a wandering species, they hardly remain in one place for a long time. They keep on changing their den sites from one place to another after every few days. It is beneficial to us, as it helps in controlling rat infestation in gardens and around homes.