Mongoose

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Mongoose
Temporal range: Oligocene to present, 21.8-0 Ma
Mongoose collection.png
Top left: Meerkat
Top right: Yellow mongoose
Bottom left: Slender mongoose
Bottom right: Indian gray mongoose
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Herpestidae
Bonaparte, 1845
Type genus
Herpestes
Genera [1]
Herpestidae.png
Synonyms [1]

A mongoose is a small terrestrial carnivorous mammal belonging to the family Herpestidae. This family is currently split into two subfamilies, the Herpestinae and the Mungotinae. The Herpestinae comprises 23 living species that are native to southern Europe, Africa and Asia, whereas the Mungotinae comprises 11 species native to Africa. [2] The Herpestidae originated about 21.8  ± 3.6 million years ago in the Early Miocene and genetically diverged into two main genetic lineages between 19.1 and 18.5  ± 3.5 million years ago. [3]

Contents

Etymology

The English word "mongoose" used to be spelled "mungoose" in the 18th and 19th centuries. The name is derived from names used in India for Herpestes species: [4] [5] [6] [7] muṅgūs or maṅgūs in classical Hindi; [8] muṅgūsa in Marathi; [9] mungi in Telugu; [10] mungi, mungisi and munguli in Kannada. [11]

The form of the English name (since 1698) was altered to its "-goose" ending by folk etymology. [12] The plural form is "mongooses". [13]

Characteristics

Mongooses have long faces and bodies, small, rounded ears, short legs, and long, tapering tails. Most are brindled or grizzly; a few have strongly marked coats which bear a striking resemblance to mustelids. Their nonretractile claws are used primarily for digging. Mongooses, much like goats, have narrow, ovular pupils. Most species have a large anal scent gland, used for territorial marking and signaling reproductive status. The dental formula of mongooses is 3.1.3–4.1–23.1.3–4.1–2. They range from 24 to 58 cm (9.4 to 22.8 in) in head-to-body length, excluding the tail. In weight, they range from 320 g (11 oz) to 5 kg (11 lb). [14]

Mongooses are one of at least four known mammalian taxa with mutations in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor that protect against snake venom. [15] Their modified receptors prevent the snake venom α-neurotoxin from binding. These represent four separate, independent mutations. In the mongoose, this change is effected, uniquely, by glycosylation. [16]

Taxonomy

Herpestina was a scientific name proposed by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1845 who considered the mongooses a subfamily of the Viverridae. [17] In 1864, John Edward Gray classified the mongooses into three subfamilies: Galiidinae, Herpestinae and Mungotinae. [18] This grouping was supported by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1919 who referred to the family as "Mungotidae". [19]

Genetic research based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analyses revealed that the galidiines are more closely related to Madagascar carnivores, including the fossa and Malagasy civet. [20] [21] Galiidinae is presently considered a subfamily of Eupleridae. [22]

SubfamilyGenusSpeciesImage of type species
Herpestinae
Herpestes Illiger, 1811 [23] Herpestes ichneumon Egipetskii mangust, ili faraonova krysa, ili ikhnevmon.jpg
Atilax Cuvier, 1826 [32] Marsh mongoose (A. paludinosus) Cuvier, 1829 [33] Marsh mongoose or water mongoose, Atilax paludinosus, at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa (22548192738).jpg
Cynictis Ogilby, 1833 [34] Yellow mongoose (C. penicillata) (Cuvier, 1829) [33] Fuchsmanguste 2.jpg
Ichneumia Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1837 White-tailed mongoose (I. albicauda) (Cuvier, 1829) [33] White-tailed mongoose (Ichneumia albicauda), crop.jpg
Bdeogale Peters, 1850 [35] Bushy-tailed mongoose - Snapshot Safari Ruaha1.jpg
Galerella Gray, 1864 Galerella sanguinea Zoo Praha 2011-2.jpg
RhynchogaleThomas, 1894 Meller's mongoose (R. melleri) Gray, 1865 Smit.m.rhinogale.melleri.white.background.jpg
Paracynictis Pocock, 1916 Selous's mongoose (P. selousi) (de Winton, 1896) Paracynictis selousi Smit.jpg
Mungotinae Mungos E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire & F. Cuvier, 1795 [42] Banded mongoose (Mungos mungo).jpg
Suricata Desmarest, 1804 [45] Meerkat (S. suricatta) (Schreber, 1776) [46] Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) (32993685706).jpg
Crossarchus Cuvier, 1825 Crossarchus obscurus Plzen zoo 02.2011.jpg
Helogale Gray, 1861 Helogale parvula, Serengeti.jpg
DologaleThomas, 1920 Pousargues's mongoose (D. dybowskii) Pousargues, 1894 [47] Dologale Dybowskii - Chinko Project Area - 20120516.jpg
LiberiictisHayman, 1958 Liberian mongoose (L. kuhni) Hayman, 1958

Phylogenetic relationships

In 1989, zoologist W. Christopher Wozencraft noted that while the phylogenetic relationships in Mungotinae were obscure, studies in the latter part of 20th century supported two monophyletic clades in Herpestinae: one consisting of Atilax and Herpestes, and the other comprising Bdeogale, Ichneumia and Rhynchogale. [48] Like other feliformian carnivorans, mongooses descended from the viverravines, which were civet- or genet-like mammals.

The phylogenetic relationships of Herpestidae are shown in the following cladogram: [49] [3]

 Herpestidae 
 Mungotinae 
  Helogale  

Helogale parvula (Common dwarf mongoose)

Helogale hirtula (Ethiopian dwarf mongoose)

 Dologale 

Dologale dybowskii (Pousargues's mongoose)

  Crossarchus  

Crossarchus alexandri (Alexander's kusimanse)

Crossarchus ansorgei (Angolan kusimanse)

Crossarchus platycephalus (Flat-headed kusimanse)

Crossarchus obscurus (Common kusimanse) Crossarchus obscurus.jpg

 Liberiictis 

Liberiictis kuhni (Liberian mongoose)

  Mungos  

Mungos gambianus (Gambian mongoose)

Mungos mungo (Banded mongoose) Lydekker - Broad-banded Cusimanse (white background).JPG

 Suricata 

Suricata suricatta (Meerkat) MeerkatAtHappyHollow white background.jpg

 Herpestinae 
  Bdeogale  

Bdeogale jacksoni (Jackson's mongoose)

Bdeogale nigripes (Black-footed mongoose)

Bdeogale crassicauda (Bushy-tailed mongoose)

 Rhynchogale 

Rhynchogale melleri (Meller's mongoose) Smit.m.rhinogale.melleri.white.background.jpg

 Paracynictis 

Paracynictis selousi (Selous's mongoose)

 Cynictis 

Cynictis penicillata (Yellow mongoose)

 Ichneumia 

Ichneumia albicauda (White-tailed mongoose)

"Herpestes" ichneumon (Egyptian mongoose) [3]

  Galerella  

Galerella sanguinea (Slender mongoose)

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape gray mongoose)

Galerella ochracea (Somalian slender mongoose)

Galerella flavescens (Angolan slender mongoose)

Galerella nigrata (Black mongoose)

 Atilax 

Atilax paludinosus (Marsh mongoose)

 Xenogale  [3]

Xenogale naso (Long-nosed mongoose)

  Herpestes  

Herpestes lemanensis

Herpestes brachyurus (Short-tailed mongoose)

Herpestes semitorquatus (Collared mongoose)

Herpestes urva (Crab-eating mongoose)

Herpestes smithii (Ruddy mongoose)

Herpestes vitticollis (Stripe-necked mongoose)

Herpestes fuscus (Indian brown mongoose)

Herpestes edwardsi (Indian gray mongoose)

Herpestes javanicus (Small Asian mongoose) Small asian mongoose white background.jpg

Extinct species

Leptoplesictis Major, 1903 [50]

Behaviour and ecology

Indian gray mongoose, Herpestes edwardsii Herpestes edwardsii. 2.jpg
Indian gray mongoose, Herpestes edwardsii

Mongooses are largely terrestrial.[ citation needed ] The Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) has been observed in pairs and groups of up to five individuals. [51]

Diet

Mongooses mostly feed on insects, crabs, earthworms, lizards, birds, and rodents. However, they also eat eggs and carrion. [52]

The Indian gray mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, particularly cobras. They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom. [53] However, they typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat. [54]

Some species can learn simple tricks. They can be semi-domesticated and are kept as pets to control vermin. [55] However, they can be more destructive than desired. When imported into the West Indies to kill rats, they destroyed most of the small, ground-based fauna. For this reason, it is illegal to import most species of mongooses into the United States, [56] Australia, and other countries. Mongooses were introduced to Hawaii in 1883 and have had a significant adverse effect on native species. [57] [ better source needed ]

Reproduction

Cynictis penicillata mating Cynictis penicillata mating1 cropped.jpg
Cynictis penicillata mating

The mongoose emits a high-pitched noise, commonly known as giggling, when it mates. Giggling is also heard during courtship. [58] [ better source needed ] Communities of female banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) synchronize their whelping to the same day to deter infanticide by dominant females.[ citation needed ]

Lifespan

It is not yet known how long a mongoose lives in its natural habitat; however, it is known that the average lifespan in captivity is twenty years. [59]

Relationship with humans

In ancient Mesopotamia, mongooses were sacred to the deity Ningilin, who was conflated with Ningirima, a deity of magic who was invoked for protection against serpents. According to a Babylonian popular saying, when a mouse fled from a mongoose into a serpent's hole, it announced, "I bring you greetings from the snake-charmer!" A creature resembling a mongoose also appears in Old Babylonian glyptic art, but its significance is not known. [60]

According to Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (1.35 & 1.87), Egyptians venerated native mongooses ( Herpestes ichneumon ) for their ability to handle venomous snakes and for their occasional diet of crocodile eggs.[ citation needed ] The Buddhist god of wealth Vaiśravaṇa, or Dzambala for Tibetans, is frequently depicted holding a mongoose that is spitting jewels from its mouth. [61] The Hindu god of wealth, Kubera (being the son of Vishrava ("Fame"), Kubera is also called Vaisravana), is often portrayed holding a mongoose in his left hand, hence the sight of a mongoose is considered lucky by some. [62]

All mongoose species, except for Suricata suricatta, are classed as a "prohibited new organism" under New Zealand's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, preventing them from being imported into the country. [63]

Mongooses are a common spectacle at roadside shows in Pakistan. Snake charmers keep mongooses for mock fights with snakes. This practice is looked at as unethical and cruel across the rest of the world. [ citation needed ]

On Okinawa (where mongooses were misguidedly brought in to control the local habu snake), mongoose fights with these highly venomous snakes ( Ovophis okinavensis and Trimeresurus flavoviridis ) in a closed perimeter were presented as spectator events at such parks as Okinawa World; however, due to pressure from animal rights activists, the spectacle is less common today. [64]

A well-known fictional mongoose is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, who appears in a short story of the same title in The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling. In this tale set in India, the young mongoose saves his family from a krait and from Nag and Nagaina, two cobras. The story was later made into several films and a song by Donovan, among other references. A mongoose is also featured in Bram Stoker's novel The Lair of the White Worm . The main character, Adam Salton, purchases one to independently hunt snakes. Another mongoose features in the denouement of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Crooked Man", by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Indian Tamil devotional film Padai Veetu Amman shows Tamil actor Vinu Chakravarthy changing himself into a mongoose by using his evil tantric mantra, to fight with goddess Amman. However, the mongoose finally dies in the hands of the goddess.

The mongoose is a prohibited animal in the United States. However, the 1962 case of "Mr. Magoo" became an exception. It was brought to Duluth, Minnesota by a merchant seaman and faced being euthanized. A public campaign to save it resulted in the intervention of Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, who exempted Magoo from the regulations. Magoo lived on display as the most popular attraction of the Lake Superior Zoo, dying of old age in 1968. [65]

Pablo Neruda had a pet mongoose named Kiria while he lived in Colombo. Kiria had the habit of following the poet everywhere. However, after Neruda moved to Batavia, Kiria disappeared and was never seen again. [66]

See also

Related Research Articles

Viverridae family of mammals

Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids, comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Viverrids occur all over Africa, southern Europe, and South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.

Marsh mongoose species of mammal

The marsh mongoose is a medium-sized mongoose native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it inhabits foremost freshwater wetlands. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008.

Stripe-necked mongoose species of mammal

The stripe-necked mongoose is a mongoose species native to forests and shrublands from southern India to Sri Lanka.

Genet (animal) genus of mammals

A genet is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and France.

Egyptian mongoose Species of mammal

The Egyptian mongoose, also known as ichneumon, is a mongoose species native to the Iberian Peninsula, coastal regions along the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Turkey, tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands in Africa. Because of its widespread occurrence, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Galidiinae subfamily of carnivorans

Galidiinae is a subfamily of carnivorans that is restricted to Madagascar and includes six species classified into four genera. Together with the three other species of indigenous Malagasy carnivorans, including the fossa, they are currently classified in the family Eupleridae within the suborder Feliformia. Galidiinae are the smallest of the Malagasy carnivorans, generally weighing about 600 to 900 g. They are agile, short-legged animals with long, bushy tails.

Malayan civet species of mammal

The Malayan civet, also known as the Malay civet and Oriental civet, is a viverrid native to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo, the Riau Archipelago, and the Philippines. It is listed as "Least Concern" by IUCN as it is a relatively widely distributed, appears to be tolerant of degraded habitats, and occurs in a number of protected areas.

Black-footed mongoose species of mammal

The black-footed mongoose is a mongoose species native to Central Africa, where it inhabits deep deciduous forests from eastern Nigeria to the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008. It is omnivorous and feeds on ants, termites, Orthoptera, small rodents, frogs, lizards and fruits. It is mostly solitary and nocturnal.

Indian grey mongoose species of mammal

The Indian grey mongoose is a mongoose species native to the Indian subcontinent and West Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The grey mongoose inhabits open forests, scrublands and cultivated fields, often close to human habitation. It lives in burrows, hedgerows and thickets, among groves of trees, and takes shelter under rocks or bushes and even in drains. It is very bold and inquisitive but wary, seldom venturing far from cover. It climbs very well. Usually found singly or in pairs. It preys on rodents, snakes, birds’ eggs and hatchlings, lizards and variety of invertebrates. Along the Chambal River it occasionally feeds on gharial eggs. It breeds throughout the year.

Javan mongoose Species of mammal

The Javan mongoose or small Indian mongoose is a mongoose species native to South and Southeast Asia that has also been introduced to many regions of the world.

White-tailed mongoose species of mammal

The white-tailed mongoose is on average the largest species in the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Ichneumia.

Feliformia suborder of mammals in the order Carnivora

Feliformia is a suborder within the order Carnivora consisting of "cat-like" carnivorans, including cats, hyenas, mongooses, viverrids, and related taxa. Feliformia stands in contrast to the other suborder of Carnivora, Caniformia.

Collared mongoose species of mammal

The collared mongoose is a mongoose species native to Borneo and Sumatra; its presence in the Philippines is uncertain. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

<i>Herpestes</i> genus of mammals

Herpestes is a genus within the mongoose family Herpestidae. It is the type genus of the family and comprises ten living species, with a number of subspecies, and one extinct species.

Brown-tailed mongoose species of mammal

The brown-tailed mongoose, Malagasy brown-tailed mongoose, or salano is a species of mammal in the family Eupleridae. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Viverrinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Viverrinae represent the largest subfamily within the Viverridae comprising five genera, which are subdivided into 22 species native to Africa and Southeast Asia. This subfamily was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.

Paradoxurinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Paradoxurinae are a subfamily of the viverrids that was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864. Pocock subordinated the oriental genera Paradoxurus, Paguma and Arctictis to this subfamily.

<i>Mungos</i> genus of mammals

Mungos is a mongoose genus that was proposed by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Frédéric Cuvier in 1795.

Herpestoidea Superfamily of mammals

Herpestoidea is a superfamily of mammalia carnivores which includes mongooses, Malagasy carnivorans and the hyenas.

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