Unusual features/differences from similar
Each foot has five
long, finger-like toes with no webs
between them as in other mongooses. The tip of the nose is pink and black, or
black. The top lip is grooved.
Visible Male/Female Difference
Females from KwaZulu-Natal have two pairs of nipples on the belly while females from
Zimbabwe have three pairs.
Habitat and Distribution
Always occurs near water except when moving from one body
of water to the next. Thrives in fresh water, estuaries and even the sea.
Eats crabs, rodents, insects, fish, bird's eggs,
frogs and carrion.
breed twice a year, litters of 2-4 are born August-February after gestation of
69-80 days. Weans from 30 to 56 days and solid food is provided by the mother until
young are 11 weeks. Young are full-grown and sexually mature at 10-11 months
lifespan of 17 years.
Behavior and Habits
Solitary, active during dawn and dusk and shelters in
nests in dense vegetation at other times. Feels for submerged prey with its long
front toes. Crabs are cracked open by throwing it to the ground, rock or other
hard object. Crabs carapaces are not eaten whereas Cape clawless otters eat the
whole crab. Water mongooses rarely swim. When alarmed, it tries to intimidate attackers by erecting
its long hair to make itself look bigger. Under severe stress it can squirt the smelly contents of its anal glands
into the face of a perceived predator.
They dry themselves
by grooming the coat with the teeth, resulting in hair being present in dung. Lives in overlapping home ranges of 150-200
ha. Males have
smaller ranges than females.
Gives a series of loud, sharp
calls. A high-pitched like a bark is made when cornered, snorts when nervous or
Dung and Field sign
Discarded crab carapaces. Dung is
cylindrical with tapered ends about 20 mm diameter containing water mongoose
hair and deposited in middens, often on shrubs. Scent marks with anal gland and
cheek gland secretions.
Water Mongoose Tracks
A crab eaten by a Water Mongoose