Meller's mongoose

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Meller's mongoose
Smit.m.rhinogale.melleri.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Herpestidae
Genus: Rhynchogale
Thomas, 1894
Species:
R. melleri
Binomial name
Rhynchogale melleri
Gray, 1865
Meller's Mongoose area.png
Meller's mongoose range
(green - extant, pink - probably extant)

Meller's mongoose (Rhynchogale melleri) is a species of mongoose found in Africa. It occurs in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is the only member of the genus Rhynchogale. [2]

Contents

Description

Meller's mongoose is a medium to large-size mongoose with a light to dark brown body and a long tail. At close quarters the upper parts of Meller's mongoose are coarsely grizzled. The lower parts of the limbs are darker than the upper parts of the body. The under parts are generally lighter in colour than the upper parts. It measures about 80 cm in length overall and weighs 2–3 kg. The tail is slightly less than half the overall length. [3] The tail is variable in colour and may be black, brown or white, although dark brown to black is the most usual. Meller's mongoose may be confused with the white-tailed mongoose, however it is smaller and blacker overall than this species. [4]

Distribution and habitat

Meller's Mongoose ranges from central Tanzania south through Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, to Swaziland and northeastern South Africa. [1] It has been recorded to 1,850m asl in Tanzania. [5]

Meller's mongoose is a savanna species, mainly associated with open woodland and grassland and marshy areas with termitaria. [6] It lives in miombo ( Brachystegia ) woodlands in Zambia, [7] Zimbabwe and Malawi [8] and montane bamboo forests in Tanzania. [5] It appears to require dense cover throughout the year and is rarely seen in areas where fires are extensive and frequent. [9]

Behaviour and ecology

Meller's mongoose is nocturnal, solitary and terrestrial. They do not appear until well after sunset and continue to be active until about midnight. [8]

Diet

Meller's mongoose feeds mainly on termites, particularly harvester termites ( Hodotermes ) and the larger Macrotermes . They also eat grasshoppers, small reptiles, centipedes, beetles and frogs. [8]

Reproduction

They appear to breed at the beginning of the wet season (November to December). 2-3 young are born in burrows or rock crevices. Females have two pairs of abdominal mammae. [8]

Threats

There are no major known threats to the species. Its favoured habitat is extensive, and in some parts overlaps with very low human populations. [1] However, human expansion and domestic dogs could represent a significant threat in localised areas. [6] However, in parts of northern South Africa the species has been recorded in areas with high human and domestic dog disturbances. [4]

Status and abundance

Listed as Least Concern by IUCN, it is apparently uncommon to rare, but it may be easily overlooked or confused with other mongoose species. [1]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 White, P.A.; Mateke, C.W.; Bird, T.L.F.; Swanepoel, L.H. & Do Linh San, E. (2015). "Rhynchogale melleri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T41623A45209275.
  2. Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). "Rhynchogale". Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.
  3. Skinner, J.D.; Smithers, R.H.N. (1990). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Transvaal: University of Pretoria.
  4. 1 2 Stuart, C.; Stuart, T. (2007). Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik.
  5. 1 2 De Luca, D.W.; Mpunga, N.E. (2005). "Carnivores of the Udzungwa Mountains: Presence, distributions and threats". Small Carnivore Conservation. 32: 1–7.
  6. 1 2 Stuart, C.; Stuart, T. (2013). "Rhynchogale melleri Meller's Mongoose". In Kingdon, J.; Hoffmann, M. (eds.). The Mammals of Africa. Volume V: Carnivores, Pangolins, Equids and Rhinoceroses. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  7. White, P.A. (2013). "Distribution, habitat use and activity patterns of nocturnal small carnivores in the North Luangwa Valley, Zambia". Small Carnivore Conservation. 48: 37–46.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Skinner, J.D.; Chimimba, C.T., eds. (2005). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  9. Kingdon, J. (2003). The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. London: A & C Black.