Things to Know About the Mongoose

The mongoose is a small type of mouse that lives in the forests and plains of Asia and Africa, and resembles a weasel in appearance. Due to its very courageous temperament, the mongoose has been the subject of human myths and stories for thousands of years. However, the life of a mongoose is much more complex and interesting than these legends suggest. Mongoose are members of the Herpestidae family and are small carnivorous mammals with about 20 genera and 34 distinct species. As adults, their kilos vary between 1-6 kilograms and body lengths between 23 and 75 centimeters. It is mainly of African origin, although one breed is common in Asia and Southern Europe and a few breeds are found only in Madagascar. Recent research on domestication issues (though in the English academic press) has mainly focused on the Egyptian or white-tailed mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon).

The Egyptian pharaoh (H. ichneumon) is a medium-sized mongoose, weighing about 2-4 kg (4-8 lb.), slender body, about 50-60 cm (9-24 inches) and about 45-60 cm (20-60 cm). They have a 24 inch long tail. Its fur is mottled gray, with a distinctly dark head and lower limbs. They have small, rounded ears, a pointed mouth, and a tufted tail. They have a generalized diet that includes small to medium-sized invertebrates such as mongoose, rabbits, rodents, birds, and reptiles, and they also eat carcasses of larger mammals. Its modern distribution has spread throughout Africa, from the Sinai peninsula to the Southeastern Anatolia Region in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Europe in the southwestern part of the Iberian peninsula. Habitats, according to National Geographic, most mongoose species are found in Africa, but some also live in South Asia and the Iberian Peninsula. Some mongoose species have also been found in other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean and the Hawaiian Islands. Mongoose mice live in burrows consisting of a complex system of tunnels or trees in many different types of landscapes, including deserts and tropical forests. For example, the bushy-tailed mongoose lives in lowland forests near rivers, and in Gambian pharaoh grasslands, coastal thickets and woodlands.

Some mongoose species are very social and live in large groups called colonies. According to ADW, colonies can have up to 50 members and other mongoose species like to live alone. Banded mongoose colonies live, travel and fight together as a team. According to Animal Planet, they stay in one area for about a week, then move in a wave to another location, just like when a flock of birds migrate. These mice actively sleep during the day and at night. They chatter with each other constantly throughout the day, combining separate phonemes similar to human speech, using vowel and syllable combinations to possibly coordinate group movements, aggregator information, and other important messages. Their diet is omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetation. They generally prefer to eat small animals such as birds, reptiles, fish, snakes, crabs, rodents, frogs, insects and worms. They also supplement their diet with eggs, nuts, fruits, roots, berries and seeds. Mongoose rats are known to break eggs against hard objects, according to National Geographic. Not many studies have been done on the breeding habits of the Mongoose in its offspring. Mongoose is believed to breed in March-May and October-December, according to ADW. They have a gestation period of 42 to 105 days and give birth to one to four puppies at a time. Baby mongooses are called cubs and a group of cubs is called litter. It is thought that the pharaohs were fully mature between 9 months and 2 years old and lived 6 to 10 years in the wild.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), most mongooses are listed as threatened, but they are not extinct. Ironically, in the 1800s, mongooses were introduced to Hawaii and the West Indies to control rodent populations in sugarcane plantations. This introduction has led to the near extinction of many bird species and other animals. In fact, the Asia Minor pharaoh is listed as one of the worst invasive alien species in the world. In other facts, some mongooses are legendary snake fighters. The Indian gray mongoose is known for its fondness for fighting and eating venomous snakes, especially cobras. Rikki-tikki-tavi is Rudyard Kipling’s short story about a young mongoose fighting a cobra. Mongooses can live in captivity for up to 20 years, according to National Geographic. Many mongoose species have a very strong, unpleasant odor due to their secretion from their anal glands, and the Indian mongoose groom each other.

Tamed Mongoose

In fact, the mongooses appear to be literally untamed. They do not need nourishment, are predators like cats and can eat their own food. Like cats, they can mate with their wild cousins, and mongooses return to the wild. There was no physical change in the mongooses over time, suggesting some domestication process at work. These mice, like cats, can be pets when caught at an early age and, like cats, are also good at keeping vermin to a minimum. The relationship between mongooses and humans seems to have made at least one step towards domestication in the New Kingdom of Egypt (1539-1075 BC). New Kingdom mummies of Egyptian pharaohs have been found in the 20th dynasty region of Bubastis and in Dendereh and Abydos of the Roman period. Natural History in it was written in the first century, a mongoose was reported in Pliny old Egypt. It originated with the expansion of Islamic civilization that brought the Egyptian pharaoh to the southwestern Iberian peninsula, possibly during the Umayyad dynasty (661-750 AD). Archaeological evidence shows that no mongoose has been found in Europe more recently than the Pliocene before the eighth century AD.

Early Examples of Egyptian Pharaoh in Europe

An almost complete H. ichneumon was found in the Nerja Cave in Portugal. Nerja has thousands of years of occupation, including the Islamic era occupation. The skull was removed from the Las Fantasmas chamber in 1959 and although the cultural deposits in this room date back to the Chalcolithic Age, the AMS radiocarbon dates indicate that the animal entered the cave between the 6th and 8th centuries (885 + -40 RCYBP). An earlier discovery is the four bones from the Muge Mesolithic midcrus in central Portugal, which are the skull, pelvis, and two right ulna. Although Muge himself is safely dated between 8000 AD 7600 cal BP, the mongoose bones themselves are based on the AD 780-970 calibration, suggesting that he was buried too much in the early deposits where he died. Both of these discoveries date back to the Egyptian pharaohs AD 6-8 AD. It supports the implication that it was brought to southwestern Iberia, possibly to the Emirate of Cordoba in 756-929 AD, during the expansion of the 21st century Islamic civilization.


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