The feisty and characteristically social Banded Mongoose
We saw that slender mongoose a few days ago and I briefly mentioned something about banded mongooses- that I enjoyed their social behaviour. Needless to say it was a pleasant surprise to see these photos of banded mongooses a couple of days ago.
The viverrids are one of the most diverse of all carnivore families. The family includes all species known as civets, linsangs, genets and mongooses.
Viverrids are so closely resembled to the ancestors of carnivores, that fossil viverrids are almost indistinguishable from these early Eocene relatives. The tooth structure and skeletal morphology has barely changed for 40 to 50 million years!!!
The banded mongoose packs are the largest of any mongoose, they are highly social. Pack size varies from 12, typically up to about 30, and the largest pack recorded in the subregion is 75 in Kruger NP. Members are ranked in the pack. There are a few breeding females that mate with the different breeding males, and suckling is done communally. Over half the young may die in the first 3 months, maybe this is why they can have up to 4 litters a year, with 4 young per litter.
If there are young at the den, babysitters will be left to guard them while the rest of the pack goes out foraging. Their diet is mostly insects, especially beetles and their grubs, also spiders, scorpions, and other small vertebrates. They move out to each spot in single file and then spread out a bit to do their individual foraging, constantly keeping in vocal contact with each other- a high pitched twitter. They stick their noses into every crevice and dig furiously for prey, jealously defending their find, except from juveniles. However (I found this absolutely hilarious), sometimes when one finds a food “gold mine” like elephant dung filled with insects, it may announce this with excited twittering and churring, thereby attracting the others to come and inspect and join in the feast. The alarm call is a sudden sharp chittering. Large packs form a fierce tight unit and are able to ward off a jackal (Id love to see this). Last but not least, there is a case of a pack member being caught by a martial eagle (a large and most formidable eagle- Ive seen one with a decent sized monitor lizard in a tree before), and taken to a nearby tree. Get this, a fellow pack member ran up the tree and attacked the eagle which was then forced to drop its prey. The caught mongoose was not seriously injured and lived to see another day.
Thanks to everyone for the great photos.
Cheers for now