|Banded mongooses (M. m. grisonax) at Etosha National Park, northern Namibia|
range of the banded mongoose
The banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a mongoose species native from the Sahel to Southern Africa. It lives in savannas, open forests and grasslands and feeds primarily on beetles and millipedes. Mongooses use various types of dens for shelter including termite mounds. While most mongoose species live solitary lives, the banded mongoose live in colonies with a complex social structure.
The banded mongoose is a sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. Animals of wetter areas are larger and darker colored than animals of dryer regions. The abdominal part of the body is higher and rounder than the breast area. The rough fur is grayish brown and black, and there are several dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. The limbs and snout are darker, while the underparts are lighter than the rest of the body. Banded mongooses have long strong claws that allow them to dig in the soil. The nose color of banded mongoose varies from gray-brown to orange-red.
An adult animal can reach a length of 30 to 45 cm and a weight of 1.5 to 2.25 kg. The tail is 15 to 30 cm long.
Viverra mungo was the scientific name proposed by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788 for a mongoose that was described earlier by several other naturalists.In the 19th and 20th centuries, several naturalists described mongoose specimens and proposed subspecies:
The banded mongoose is found in a large part of East, Southeast and South-Central Africa. There are also populations in the northern savannas of West Africa. The banded mongoose lives in savannas, open forests and grassland, especially near water, but also in dry, thorny bushland but not deserts. The species uses various types of dens for shelter, most commonly termite mounds.They will also live in rock shelters, thickets, gullies, and warrens under bushes. Mongooses prefer multi-entranced termitaria with open thicket, averaging 4 m from the nearest shelter, located in semi-closed woodland. In contrast to the den of the dwarf mongoose, banded mongoose dens are less dependent on vegetation cover and have more entrances. Banded mongooses live in larger groups than dwarf mongooses and thus more entrances means more members have access to the den and ventilation. The development of agriculture in the continent has had a positive influence on the number of banded mongooses. The crops of the farmland serve as an extra food source.
The banded mongoose lives in many of Africa's protected areas. km2. Queen Elizabeth National Park has much higher mongoose densities at 18/km2.The Serengeti of Tanzania, has a density of around three mongooses per km2. In southern KwaZulu-Natal, mongoose numbers are at a similar density at 2.4
Banded mongooses live in mixed-sex groups of 7–40 individuals with an average of around 20 individuals.Groups sleep together at night in underground dens, often abandoned termite mounds, and change dens frequently (every 2–3 days). When no refuge is available and hard-pressed by predators such as African wild dogs, the group will form a compact arrangement in which they lie on each other with heads facing outwards and upwards.There is generally no strict hierarchy in mongoose groups and aggression is low. Sometimes, mongoose may squabble over food. However, typically, the one who claims the food first wins. Most aggression and hierarchical behavior occurs between males when females are in oestrus. Female are usually not aggressive but do live in hierarchies based on age. The older females have earlier estrous periods and have larger litters. When groups get too large, some females are forced out of the group by either older females or males. These females may form new groups with subordinate males. Relations between groups are highly aggressive and mongooses are sometimes killed and injured during intergroup encounters. Nevertheless, breeding females will often mate with males from a rival groups during fights. Mongooses establish their territories with scent markings that may also serve as communication between those in the same group. In the society of the banded mongoose there is a clear separation between mating rivals and territorial rivals. Individuals within groups are rivals for mates while those from neighboring groups are competitors for food and resources.
Banded mongoose feed primarily on insects, myriapods, small reptiles, and birds. Millipedes and beetles make up most of their diet,but they also commonly eat ants, crickets, termites, grasshoppers, caterpillars and earwigs. Other prey items of the mongoose includes frogs, lizards, small snakes, ground birds and the eggs of both birds and reptiles. On some occasions, mongooses will drink water from rain pools and lake shores.
Banded mongoose forage in groups but each member searches for food alone.They forage in the morning for several hours and then rest in the shade. They will usually forage again in the late afternoon. Mongooses use their sense of smell to locate their prey and dig them out with their long claws, both in holes in the ground and holes in trees. Mongoose will also frequent near the dung of large herbivores since they attract beetles. Low grunts are produced every few seconds for communication. Mongoose also feed individually and are not cooperative feeders. When hunting prey that secrete toxins, mongooses will roll them on the ground. Durable prey is thrown on hard surfaces.
Unlike most other social mongoose species, all females in a banded mongoose group can breed.They all enter oestrus around 10 days after giving birth, and are guarded and mated by 1–3 dominant males. The dominant males monitor the females and aggressively defend them from subordinates. While these males do most of the mating, the females often try to escape from them and mate with other males in the group. A dominant male will spend 2–3 days guarding each female. A guarding male will snap at, lunge at or pounce on any males that come near. A non-guarding male may follow a guarding male and his female and may face this aggression. Non-guarding males mate in a more secretive way. This kind of "sneaking" behavior is similar to what subordinate males of the fish species Neolamprologus pulcher do; they also try to mate with females that are guarded by the dominant males.
Gestation is 60–70 days. In most breeding attempts, all females give birth either on the same dayor within a few days. Litters range 2–6 pups and average 4. For the first four weeks of life, pups stay in the dens where they form an exclusive relationship with a single helper or escort, whose genetic relationship with the pups is unknown. These helpers are generally young nonbreeding males or breeding females who have contributed to the current litter and they help to minimize competition over food allocation among pups. During this time they are guarded by these helpers while the other group member go on their foraging trips. After four weeks, the pups are able to go foraging themselves. Each pup is cared for by a single adult "escort" who helps the pup to find food and protects it from danger. Pups become nutritionally independent at three months of age.
Few studies have found evidence of regular incest in mammals but banded mongooses are an exception.Inbreeding depression is largely caused by the homozygous expression of deleterious recessive alleles. Inbreeding depression appears to occur in banded mongooses as indicated by a decline in progeny body mass with increasing inbreeding coefficient. This finding suggests that avoiding breeding with close relatives would be beneficial. Successfully breeding pairs were found to be less related than expected under random mating.
Banded mongooses have been observed removing ticks and other parasites from warthogs in Kenyaand Uganda.
The aardwolf is an insectivorous mammal, native to East and Southern Africa. Its name means "earth-wolf" in Afrikaans and Dutch. It is also called "maanhaar-jackal", "|gīb" by the Nama people, "ant hyena", "termite-eating hyena" and "civet hyena", based on its habit of secreting substances from its anal gland, a characteristic shared with the African civet. The aardwolf is in the same family as the hyena. Unlike many of its relatives in the order Carnivora, the aardwolf does not hunt large animals. It eats insects and their larvae, mainly termites; one aardwolf can lap up as many as 250,000 termites during a single night using its long, sticky tongue, the aardwolves tongue has adapted to be tough enough to withstand the strong bite of termites.
The fennec fox is a small crepuscular fox native to the Sahara Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. Its most distinctive feature is its unusually large ears, which serve to dissipate heat. The fennec is the smallest canid species. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to the desert environment with high temperatures and little water. Also, its hearing is sensitive to hear prey moving underground. It mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds. The fennec has a life span of up to 14 years in captivity and about 10 years in the wild. Its main predators are the Verreaux's eagle-owl, jackals, and other large mammals. Fennec families dig out burrows in the sand for habitation and protection, which can be as large as 120 m2 (1,292 sq ft) and adjoin the burrows of other families. Precise population figures are not known but are estimated from the frequency of sightings; these indicate that the fennec is currently not threatened by extinction. Knowledge of social interactions is limited to information gathered from captive animals. The fennec is usually assigned to the genus Vulpes; however, this is debated due to differences between the fennec and other fox species. The fennec's fur is prized by indigenous peoples of North Africa, and in some parts of the world, it is considered an exotic pet.
The meerkat or suricate is a small mongoose found in southern Africa. It is characterised by a broad head, large eyes, a pointed snout, long legs, a thin tapering tail, and a brindled coat pattern. The head-and-body length is around 24–35 cm (9.4–13.8 in), and the weight is typically between 0.62 and 0.97 kg. The coat is light grey to yellowish brown with alternate, poorly defined light and dark bands on the back. Meerkats have foreclaws adapted for digging and have the ability to thermoregulate to survive in their harsh, dry habitat. Three subspecies are recognised.
The bat-eared fox is a species of fox found on the African savanna, named for its large ears, which are used for thermoregulation. Fossil records show this canid first appeared during the middle Pleistocene, about 800,000 years ago. It is considered a basal canid species, resembling ancestral forms of the family, It has also been called a Sub-Saharan African version of a fennec fox due to their huge ears.
The sex ratio is the ratio of males to females in a population. In most sexually reproducing species, the ratio tends to be 1:1. This tendency is explained by Fisher's principle. For various reasons, however, many species deviate from anything like an even sex ratio, either periodically or permanently. Examples include parthenogenic species, periodically mating organisms such as aphids, some eusocial wasps such as Polistes fuscatus and Polistes exclamans, bees, ants, and termites.
The Ethiopian wolf, also known as the Simien jackal or Simien fox, is a canid native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It is similar to the coyote in size and build, and is distinguished by its long and narrow skull, and its red and white fur. Unlike most large canids, which are widespread, generalist feeders, the Ethiopian wolf is a highly specialised feeder of Afroalpine rodents with very specific habitat requirements. It is one of the world's rarest canids, and Africa's most endangered carnivore.
Alloparenting is a term used to classify any form of parental care provided by an individual towards a non-descendant young. Non-descendant refers to any young who is not the direct genetic offspring of the individual, but does not exclude related young such as siblings or grandchildren. Individuals providing this care are referred to using the neutral term of alloparent.
The yellow mongoose, sometimes referred to as the red meerkat, is a member of the mongoose family. It averages about 1 lb (1/2 kg) in weight and about 20 in (500 mm) in length. It lives in open country, from semi-desert scrubland to grasslands in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
The common dwarf mongoose is a mongoose species native to Angola, northern Namibia, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Zambia and East Africa. It is part of the genus Helogale and as such related to Helogale hirtula.
The Gambian mongoose is a mongoose species native to the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic from Gambia to Nigeria. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008.
Cooperative breeding is a social system characterized by alloparental care: offspring receive care not only from their parents, but also from additional group members, often called helpers. Cooperative breeding encompasses a wide variety of group structures, from a breeding pair with helpers that are offspring from a previous season, to groups with multiple breeding males and females (polygynandry) and helpers that are the adult offspring of some but not all of the breeders in the group, to groups in which helpers sometimes achieve co-breeding status by producing their own offspring as part of the group's brood. Cooperative breeding occurs across taxonomic groups including birds, mammals, fish, and insects.
Reproductive suppression involves the prevention or inhibition of reproduction in otherwise healthy adult individuals. It includes delayed sexual maturation (puberty) or inhibition of sexual receptivity, facultatively increased interbirth interval through delayed or inhibited ovulation or spontaneous or induced abortion, abandonment of immature and dependent offspring, mate guarding, selective destruction and worker policing of eggs in some eusocial insects or cooperatively breeding birds, and infanticide, and infanticide in carnivores) of the offspring of subordinate females either by directly killing by dominant females or males in mammals or indirectly through the withholding of assistance with infant care in marmosets and some carnivores. The Reproductive Suppression Model argues that "females can optimize their lifetime reproductive success by suppressing reproduction when future [physical or social] conditions for the survival of offspring are likely to be greatly improved over present ones". When intragroup competition is high it may be beneficial to suppress the reproduction of others, and for subordinate females to suppress their own reproduction until a later time when social competition is reduced. This leads to reproductive skew within a social group, with some individuals having more offspring than others. The cost of reproductive suppression to the individual is lowest at the earliest stages of a reproductive event and reproductive suppression is often easiest to induce at the pre-ovulatory or earliest stages of pregnancy in mammals, and greatest after a birth. Therefore, neuroendocrine cues for assessing reproductive success should evolve to be reliable at early stages in the ovulatory cycle. Reproductive suppression occurs in its most extreme form in eusocial insects such as termites, hornets and bees and the mammalian naked mole rat which depend on a complex division of labor within the group for survival and in which specific genes, epigenetics and other factors are known to determine whether individuals will permanently be unable to breed or able to reach reproductive maturity under particular social conditions, and cooperatively breeding fish, birds and mammals in which a breeding pair depends on helpers whose reproduction is suppressed for the survival of their own offspring. In eusocial and cooperatively breeding animals most non-reproducing helpers engage in kin selection, enhancing their own inclusive fitness by ensuring the survival of offspring they are closely related to. Wolf packs suppress subordinate breeding.
The Cape ground squirrel or South African ground squirrel is found in most of the drier parts of southern Africa from South Africa, through to Botswana, and into Namibia, including Etosha National Park.
The southern pied babbler is a species of bird in the family Leiothrichidae, found in dry savannah of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Eusociality, the highest level of organization of sociality, is defined by the following characteristics: cooperative brood care, overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. The division of labor creates specialized behavioral groups within an animal society which are sometimes called castes. Eusociality is distinguished from all other social systems because individuals of at least one caste usually lose the ability to perform at least one behavior characteristic of individuals in another caste.
Infanticide is the termination of a neonate after it has been born, and in zoology this is often the termination or consumption of newborn animals by either a parent or an unrelated adult. In rodents, it is not uncommon for the mother to commit infanticide shortly after parturition under conditions of extreme stress, or for an unrelated male to kill neonates.
Infanticide is the killing of a neonate after birth. In zoology, this commonly refers to the killing and in some cases consumption of newborn animals by either a parent or an unrelated adult of the species. In carnivores, it is not uncommon for an unrelated male to commit infanticide to make females sexually receptive. Parental infanticide is sometimes a result of extreme stress by human intrusion.
Begging in animals is when an animal solicits being given resources by another animal. This is usually a young animal soliciting food from their parents, brood hosts or other adults. However, the resource is sometimes non-food related or may be solicited by adult animals. Begging behavior is most widely studied in birds, however, mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates perform begging displays. Generally in food solicitation, begging behavior is instinctive, although in some instances it is learned.
Monogamous pairing refers to a general relationship between an adult male and an adult female for the purpose of sexual reproduction. It is particularly common in birds, but there are examples of this occurrence in reptiles, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and mammals.
Inbreeding avoidance, or the inbreeding avoidance hypothesis, is a concept in evolutionary biology that refers to the prevention of the deleterious effects of inbreeding. The inbreeding avoidance hypothesis posits that certain mechanisms develop within a species, or within a given population of a species, as a result of assortative mating, natural and sexual selection in order to prevent breeding among related individuals in that species or population. Although inbreeding may impose certain evolutionary costs, inbreeding avoidance, which limits the number of potential mates for a given individual, can inflict opportunity costs. Therefore, a balance exists between inbreeding and inbreeding avoidance. This balance determines whether inbreeding mechanisms develop and the specific nature of said mechanisms.
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