|Common dwarf mongoose|
|in Kruger National Park|
|Common dwarf mongoose range|
The common dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) 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 common dwarf mongoose is a typical mongoose: it has a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, short limbs and long claws. The species can be distinguished from other mongooses by its size. It is much smaller than most other species (18 to 28 cm, 210 to 350 grams); in fact, it is Africa's smallest member of the order Carnivora. The soft fur is very variable in color, ranging from yellowish red to very dark brown.
The common dwarf mongoose is primarily found in dry grassland, open forests, and bush land, up to 2,000 m in altitude. It is especially common in areas with many termite mounds, their favorite sleeping place. The species avoids dense forests and deserts. The common dwarf mongoose can also be found in the surroundings of settlements, and can become quite tame.
The species ranges from East to southern Central Africa, from Eritrea and Ethiopia to the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the Republic of South Africa.
The common dwarf mongoose is a diurnal animal. It is a highly social species that lives in extended family groups of two to thirty animals. There is a strict hierarchy among same-sexed animals within a group, headed by the dominant pair (normally the oldest group members). All group members cooperate in helping to rear the pups and in guarding the group from predators.
Young mongooses attain sexual maturity by one year of age but delay dispersal, with males usually emigrating (in the company of their brothers) at 2–3 years old. Dispersing males may join other established groups, either as subordinates or by ousting the resident males, or they may found new groups with unrelated dispersing females. In contrast, females normally remain in their home group for life, queuing for the dominant position. They will, however, emigrate to found a new group if they lose their place in the hierarchy to a younger sister.
Dwarf mongooses are territorial, and each group uses an area of approximately 30-60 hectares (depending on the type of habitat). They sleep at night in disused termite mounds, although they occasionally use piles of stones, hollow trees, etc. The mongooses mark their territory with anal gland and cheek gland secretions and latrines. Territories often overlap slightly, which can lead to confrontations between different groups, with the larger group tending to win.
Dwarf mongooses tend to breed during the wet season, between October and April, raising up to three litters. Usually only the group's dominant female becomes pregnant, and she is responsible for 80% of the pups reared by the group. If conditions are good, subordinate females may also become pregnant, but their pups rarely survive. After the gestation period of 53 days, 4-6 young are born. They remain below ground within a termite mound for the first 2–3 weeks. Normally one or more members of the group stay behind to babysit while the group goes foraging. Subordinate females often produce milk to feed the dominant female's pups. At 4 weeks of age the pups begin accompanying the group. All group members help to provide them with prey items until they are around 10 weeks old.
A mutualistic relationship has evolved between dwarf mongooses and hornbills, in which hornbills seek out the mongooses in order for the two species to forage together, and to warn each other of nearby raptors and other predators.
The diet of the common dwarf mongoose consists of insects (mainly beetle larvae, termites, grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, scorpions, small lizards, snakes, small birds, and rodents, and is supplemented very occasionally with berries.
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.
Termites are eusocial insects that are classified at the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the order Blattodea. Termites were once classified in a separate order from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from cockroaches, as sister to Cryptocercus. Previous estimates suggested the divergence took place during the Jurassic or Triassic, however more recent estimates suggest they have an origin during the early Cretaceous with the first fossil records in the mid Cretaceous. About 3,106 species are currently described, with a few hundred more left to be described. Although these insects are often called "white ants", they are not ants, and are not closely related to ants.
The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek. Hornbills have a two-lobed kidney. They are the only birds in which the first and second neck vertebrae are fused together; this probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill. The family is omnivorous, feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and sometimes cliffs. A number of mainly insular species of hornbill with small ranges are threatened with extinction, namely in Southeast Asia. In the Neotropical realm, toucans occupy the hornbills' ecological niche, an example of convergent evolution.
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 Siberian jay is a small jay with a widespread distribution within the coniferous forests in North Eurasia. Although its habitat is being fragmented, it is a common bird with a very wide range so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".
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.
Blattodea is an order of insects that contains cockroaches and termites. Formerly, the termites were considered a separate order, Isoptera, but genetic and molecular evidence suggests an intimate relationship with the cockroaches, both cockroaches and termites having evolved from a common ancestor. The Blattodea and the mantises are now all considered part of the superorder Dictyoptera. Blattodea includes approximately 4,400 species of cockroach in almost 500 genera, and about 3,000 species of termite in around 300 genera.
The banded mongoose 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.
Tarangire National Park is a national park in Tanzania's Manyara Region. The name of the park originates from the Tarangire River that crosses the park. The Tarangire River is the primary source of fresh water for wild animals in the Tarangire Ecosystem during the annual dry season. The Tarangire Ecosystem is defined by the long-distance migration of wildebeest and zebras. During the dry season thousands of animals concentrate in Tarangire National Park from the surrounding wet-season dispersal and calving areas.
The common kusimanse, also known as the long-nosed kusimanse or simply cusimanse, is a small, diurnal kusimanse or dwarf mongoose. Of three subfamilies of Herpestidae, the kusimanse is a member of Mungotinae, which are small and very social.
The white-tailed mongoose is on average the largest species in the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Ichneumia.
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.
The Damaraland mole-rat, Damara mole rat or Damaraland blesmol, is a burrowing rodent found in southern Africa. Along with the smaller, less hairy, naked mole rat, it is one of only two known eusocial mammals.
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 topi is a subspecies of the common tsessebe. It is a highly social and fast type of antelope found in the savannas, semi-deserts, and floodplains of sub-Saharan Africa.
Helogale is a genus of the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It consists of two species and 12 subspecies:
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.
Olwen Anne Elisabeth Rasa is a British Ethologist, who rendered outstanding services to the knowledge of the social behavior of Dwarf mongoose.
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