Yellow Mongoose - Cynictis penicillata

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African Civet - Civettictis civetta | Large spotted Genet - Genetta tigrina | Small spotted Genet - Genetta genetta | Selous' Mongoose - Paracynictis selousi | Yellow Mongoose - Cynictis penicillata | Small Grey Mongoose - Galerella pulverulenta | White-tailed Mongoose - Ichneumia albicauda | Water Mongoose - Atilax paludinosus | Large Grey Mongoose - Herpestes ichneumon | Slender Mongoose - Galerella sanguinea | Banded Mongoose - Mungos mungo | Dwarf Mongoose - Helogale parvula | Suricate - Suricata suricatta


Afrikaans Rooimeerkat
 Tswana Ramoswe, Motodi
Photo: Sťan Thomas

F 4 cm
H 3 cm


5 cm
Deposited in middens at burrow entrances

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

The tail has long hair and has a white tip. The tail of the Slender Mongoose has a black tip. The tip of the nose is black but is brown in the Slender Mongoose. The top lip is not grooved but the lips of slender and small grey mongooses are grooved.

Visible Male/Female Differences

Females have three pairs of nipples on the belly.

Habitat and Distribution

Open scrub, grassland, Karoo and open woodland. Prefers more open areas than the Small grey mongoose


Varies widely and they eat what is available: mainly insects, also other invertebrates, mice, bats, birds and carrion. They are suspected of raiding poultry. Termites are the single most important part of the diet but eats fruit in winter when insects are less abundant. Food is detected mainly by scent and sound. It and is dug up from the soil or insects  scratched out of leaf litter and dung.


Females have two litters of 2-5 pups per year after a gestation of 60-62 days. Young eats solid food at 4-5 weeks and are weaned at 6-8 weeks. Forages independently at 16 -18 weeks. Females mature at 1 year, males at 9-12 months. Potential lifespan is 15 years. 

Behavior and Habits

Each colony has a dominant pair but juveniles outrank all adults. Males have home ranges of up to 100 ha.  All colony members scent mark with anal gland secretion and cheek gland secretion.  Male intruders are chased away, while females may be tolerated, especially during the mating season. Snakes and monitor lizards take youngsters from warrens. Large raptors take adults.  Active during the day, and at night in summer. Shelters in burrows that it digs itself, takes over from ground squirrels or shares with ground squirrels or suricates. Burrows may be small, with a single entrance, or form large warrens with up to 66 entrances, going down 1 5 m. Sunbathes to warm up after emerging from the bur row,  siesta in summer. Forages singly, up to 1over 10 km from the warren. Warrens are inhabited by colonies of up to 13, usually 2-3 adults and their young.  Individuals in the colony are bonded by mutual grooming. They run with the tail held vertically whereas the slender mongoose keeps tail low and flicks it upwards only as it reaches cover. The yellow mongoose forages alone, digging in soil for larvae and invertebrates

Parental care ends at 10 months.


A repeated short growl signals mild alarm and uncertain danger by a sharp 'tschak'. A sudden and serious alarm is advertised by a bark. 

Dung and Field sign

There are middens outside warrens where all colony members defecate and urinate first thing in the morning.  Dung is elongated and up to 6 cm long, tapered at one end, and nearly always contain insect fragments.

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