Indian Mungo

Cat, marten, or fox? Not quite right: The Indian mongoose with the elongated body and short legs belongs to the mongoose family.


What do Indian mongooses look like?

Like all mongooses, the Indian mongoose belongs to the order of carnivores and there to the superfamily of cats. They used to belong to the civet family, but today they form their own family of mongooses or gusts. They are closely related to civets, aardwolves, and hyenas.

Indian mongooses have the typical elongated body of mongoose, relatively short legs, a pointed snout, and a long tail. They measure 36 to 45 centimeters from the tip of the nose to the bottom, the tail is about 35 centimeters long. Depending on their size, they weigh 900 grams to 1.7 kilograms.

Their fur is silvery grey, the head and the tip of the tail are reddish, the legs are usually a little darker in color. The soles of the feet are bare and they have five toes on each foot with strong claws.

Where do Indian mongooses live?

Indian mongooses are found from the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula through Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to all of India.

In some areas, they were introduced because they hunt rats and snakes: for example on the islands of Mauritius and Réunion, on the Malay Peninsula, on Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii but also in some regions of Italy. Indian mongooses do not have high demands on their habitat. They live in tropical rain forests as well as in dry areas. They usually stay in the grassland, which is partly covered by bushes. They can also be found in cultural landscapes.

Which Indian mongoose species are there?

The mongoose family includes 14 genera with 33 different species. Well-known species are the Indian mongoose, the banded mongoose, and the slender mongoose. But the meerkats are also part of this family. Mongooses are common in Africa, southern Asia, and southern Europe.

How old do Indian mongooses get?

At least in captivity, mongooses can live well over ten years.


How do Indian mongooses live?

Indian mongooses mostly live as loners, but sometimes also in pairs or loose family groups. They stay mostly on the ground, dig their own burrows or inhabit the abandoned burrows of other animals. Indian mongooses are diurnal: during the day they leave their hiding places and go in search of food.

The animals can move very quickly and nimbly. This is why they are also able to hunt poisonous snakes: If the snake they attacked defends itself, they dodge it at lightning speed. Then they attack again and dodge again. This fight goes back and forth until the snake is tired and is easily overwhelmed by the mongooses.

However, mongooses are not immune to snake venom, even if this is repeatedly claimed. If a mongoose is bitten by a poisonous snake, its thick fur protects it. Because the snake’s teeth usually cannot penetrate the fur. Because mongooses attack and kill snakes, they were and are still kept indoors in some countries, such as India. In ancient Indian tales, mongooses are even considered protectors, protecting humanity from snakes.

Mongooses were once introduced to some islands in the hope that they would keep rats at bay. However, these measures led to major problems: the mongooses not only hunted rats but also other native animals. Some of them were almost wiped out. The mongooses often broke into chicken coops and killed many animals. In addition, it soon turned out that the mongooses transmit the rabies pathogen.

Friends and foes of the Indian mongoose

Because they are very fast and defensive, mongooses have few natural enemies. When attacked, they assume a typical threatening posture: they ruffle their fur, raise their hind bodies and lower their heads.

How do Indian mongooses reproduce?

Indian mongooses give birth two to three times a year. After a gestation period of 60 to 65 days, a female gives birth to two to four young, which are nursed by the mother for about four to five weeks and are then independent. The young are born at all times of the year.

How do Indian mongooses communicate?

If mongooses feel threatened, they utter threatening cries and chatter.


What do Indian mongooses eat?

Indian mongooses have a very varied diet. They primarily hunt small mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes. But they don’t stop at insects and scorpions either. And they do not despise fruits either.

Husbandry of the Indian mongoose

Captive mongooses can become quite tame. Once they have gotten used to their keepers, they are very playful and even slip into sleeves and trouser legs.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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