Large Grey Mongoose - Herpestes ichneumon

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Afrikaans Grootgrysmuishond Zulu Nhlangala  
Tswana Leswekete, Tshagane

5 cm


10 cm
Contains rodent hair
and small mammal remains

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

Larger than any of the other mongooses that are active during daytime. The only other mongoose of the same size is the White-tailed mongoose which is nocturnal.

Visible Male/Female Differences

Males slightly bigger than females. Females have three pairs of nipples.

Habitat and Distribution

Dense cover on river banks, dams, lakes and swamps. Occurs in humid and sub-humid grassland.


Small rodents, small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, reptiles, other invertebrates and fruit. May raid poultry pens.


Litters of 1-4 are born in early summer after a gestation of 60 days. Young are weaned at 4-8 weeks. Forages with the mother from 72 days and starts foraging alone at 4 months. Remains in the family group for a year. The ears and eyes of newborns are sealed; eyes open within 2 weeks, will respond to sounds at 4 weeks and at 7 weeks begin using its nose

Behavior and Habits

Solitary. Most active in the late morning and mid-afternoon. Females have overlapping home ranges of 300-450 ha overlapping with ranges of males. The anal glands are well developed,  their secretions used to mark home ranges. If threatened, it tries to intimidate the threat by erecting its long hair to make itself look bigger by. They are powerful diggers.


A high-pitched kie-kie-kie rising in intensity under stress. Also soft, low growls and spitting sounds.

Dung and Field sign

Dropping are up to 10 cm long, 1,5 cm thick, tapered at one end and deposited in latrines to mark area boundaries. Contains rodent hair and small mammal remains.

Safari Media Africa/C.A. Mitchell 2000-2012

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