Characterized by bushy tails and pointed faces, mongooses are uniquely-looking creatures. Even though they somewhat resemble rodents, they are omnivores (they feed majorly on flesh but can sometimes eat plants). Scientists have so far discovered about 30 mongoose species distributed worldwide. Here, we cover amazing mongoose facts that you probably haven’t heard in a while.

1. Female Mongooses are Known to Start Fights and Sneak Off to Mate with the Enemy

two animals standing on dirt

 

Mongooses rarely leave their groups; most are usually genetically related. To counter inbreeding, female mongooses have a habit of starting fights. As the males stand guard to protect their females, they sneak off to mate with the males of the rival group.

2. Mongooses Evolve with Toxins Found in Venomous Snakes

As part of the evolutionary arms race with prey, the toxins found in snake venom have evolved significantly. However, as that is happening, mammals such as mongooses and honey badges have adapted to resist these advancements.

3. The Marsh Mongoose Uses Its Butt to Catch Birds

Also known as the African Water Mongoose, the Marsh Mongoose uses its butt to catch prey. What it does is it makes its behinds resemble a ripe fruit. And as birds come close by to investigate, it turns around and feeds on them.

4. Mongooses Were Introduced in Hawaii to Feed on Rats; Instead, They Made 8 Endangered Birds Extinct

In 1883, Mongooses were brought to Hawaii to eliminate rat infestation in the sugarcane fields. Unfortunately, the mongooses preyed on birds, too, leading to the extinction of eight endangered species. As a result, it is prohibited to keep or breed Mongooses in the region. If caught, one has to pay a fine ranging from $250 to $1000. Mongooses did the same to the ground-nesting birds in Jamaica.

5. In India, Mongooses are Killed to Make Paintbrushes

Hundreds of Mongooses are killed in India so that their hair can be used to make paintbrushes. Even though a law prohibiting the habit was passed in 1972, hunting and selling of mongooses still continues to date. The demand for paintbrushes made of mongoose hasn’t made the fight against the illegal trade any easier.

6. Mongooses are More Related to Hyenas than Weasels

white and brown animal on snow covered ground

Mongooses and weasels have a lot of similar characteristics. However, mongooses are more related to hyenas than weasels. They both fall under the same group of modern carnivores called Feliformia.

7. Mongoose Mothers Give Birth at the Same Time

In a group of Mongooses, the mothers tend to give birth simultaneously. They mainly do so to uphold a “fair upbringing.” As a result, it is often difficult for female mongooses to identify their pups. Therefore, the entire group takes care of the pups without discrimination.

8. Warthogs and Mongooses Have an Unusual Alliance

In the wilderness, it’s common to find a warthog amid mongooses. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship; the mongooses feed on the ticks on the warthog, while the warthog gets a free cleanse.

9. Scientists Believe that Mongooses Rafted to Madagascar

Scientists believe that mongooses, flying foxes, and lemurs rafted to Madagascar 65 million years ago. They claim these animals hitched rides on rafters blown out of the sea.

10. It’s Correct to Say Mongeese

In the plural, these animals are referred to as mongooses. However, it is also grammatically correct to call them mongeese. This alternative version is recognized by various renowned dictionaries.

11. Snakes are No Match for Mongooses

The feud between mongooses and snakes has been around for centuries. Unlike other animals that run away from snakes, mongooses stand up for themselves and have a higher chance of winning the battle, thanks to their speed and agility.

12. Mongooses Have a Strange Diet

Mongooses are recognized as carnivores. However, they feed on plants, birds, lizards, rodents, and eggs.

13. Some Mongooses are Semiaquatic

Over the years, a subspecies of mongooses have evolved to become semiaquatic. This characteristic allows them to dive or swim in water in search of crabs, fish, and other types of prey.

14. Mongooses Alarm Others When Predators Are Close-by

Because most mongooses live in groups, they have adopted a sentinel behavior. When searching for food, some mongooses stand guard in an elevated position. They immediately make alarm calls if they sense any danger, and the others hide. This trait is prevalent among dwarf mongooses.

15. In Egypt, the Mongoose was a Sacred Animal

Nicknamed the Holy Cat, the Egyptian Mongoose was a sacred animal. They can be traced back to paintings dated to around 300 BC. The Egyptians developed such a perception of the Moongose because of the animal’s ability to fight and kill venomous snakes. As a result, they were common in arenas or temples.

16. Mongooses are Acrobatic

a small meerkat sitting on a bench

Thanks to their quick reflexes, mongooses are pretty acrobatic. They can flip, spin, jump, and do other impressive stunts. They usually bring these skills when fighting snakes, and when the latter eventually tire out, the mongoose pounces and bites the snake on the head.

17. Mongooses Can Live for Up To 10 years

The typical mongoose has a lifespan of 6 to 10 years. They reach maturity from 9 to 18 months. On the other hand, some mongooses, especially those in captivity, can live for up to 20 years.

 

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Animals & Plants, Science,

Last Update: February 7, 2024