dwarf mongoose

Helogale parvula undulatus

Common name

dwarf mongoose


It is found in a wide range of habitats, mainly in savannah, wooded savanna, forested areas and dry scrub areas, arid and semi-arid terrain. They are closely related to termite mounds, which they use as burrows.


Subfamily: Mungotinae






55 days.

Number of offspring




Predominantly insectivorous, especially based on termites and beetles, but also centipedes, beetle larvae and occasionally small vertebrates (small mammals, geckos, snakes and birds).


13 years in the wild and up to 18 years in captivity.

Biology and behavior

The dwarf mongoose is the smallest carnivore in Africa. It may dig its own burrows or live in abandoned termite mounds.

It lives in groups of between 10 and just over 50 individuals. It has an interesting social system in which there is a marked hierarchy in which the highest position is occupied by the alpha female, the oldest, followed by her partner, with whom she usually mates for life. This pair is the only one that reproduces in the entire group, since the reproductive activity of the other females is hormonally inhibited by the alpha female.

The female has between two and three litters a year. She comes into heat about three weeks after giving birth and the pups are weaned at the 6th or 7th week of life.

The hierarchy of the rest of the group is based on age, the dominant pair is followed in social rank by the younger individuals. The rest of the members of the colony participate in the care and feeding of the little ones, bringing food inside the burrow, playing with them and acting as babysitters. They spend more time with the young than the parents themselves, who in turn lead the search for food and protect the burrow from attacks by predators and intruders.

This curious cooperative system in caring for the young seems to avoid competition between adults and increase the survival of the offspring. Dwarf mongooses not only take care of the little ones, but also give special treatment to older individuals and the injured or sick. They provide them with extra food and care, even delaying or restricting the group's movements until recovery takes place.


They establish a symbiotic relationship with the Kenyan toco. These birds accompany mongooses in their search for food, feeding on the same prey as them. In exchange for this food, the tocos warn the mongooses of the presence of predators with their powerful calls, so that the mongooses can concentrate on the search without worrying about constantly monitoring that there are no enemies nearby. It has been observed that tocos can warn of predators that are harmless to them and dangerous only to mongooses.

African savanna
Equatorial jungle
Madagascar Island