A mongoose (plural: mongooses) is a member of the family Herpestidae (although also used for some members of Eupleridae), a family of small, cat-like carnivores. The word mongoose is derived from the Marathi word mangus and has no etymological connection to the word goose.
Some species of mongoose are fairly intelligent and can be taught simple tricks, which has led to a number of them being domesticated, often kept as pets to control vermin. However, they can be more destructive than desired: when imported into the West Indies to kill rats and snakes, they destroyed most of the small, ground-based fauna. For this reason, it is illegal to import most species of mongoose into the United States, Australia and other countries. Mongooses were introduced to Hawaii in 1883, and have had a significant impact on native species.
The mongoose emits a high pitched noise, commonly known as giggling, when it mates. The giggling is also a form of courtship when this animal is choosing a mate.
Mongooses also have receptors for acetylcholine that, like the receptors in snakes, are shaped so that it is impossible for snake neurotoxin venom to attach to them. Research is being done to determine if similar mechanisms protect the mongoose from hemotoxic snake venoms.
The Meerkat or Suricate (Suricata suricatta) lives in troops of 20 to 30 consisting of an alpha male and female, usually together with their siblings and offspring, in open country in Southern Africa (Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa). The Meerkat is a small, diurnal mammal foraging for invertebrates in open country. Its behaviour and small size (it weighs less than one kilogram) makes it very vulnerable to larger carnivores and birds of prey. However, the Meerkat has been known to eat small birds that migrate through Southern Africa. To protect the foraging troops from predators, one Meerkat serves as a sentinel — climbing to an exposed vantage point and scanning the surroundings for danger. If the sentinel detects a predator it gives a loud alarm call to warn the troop and indicate if the threat comes from the air or the ground. If from the air, the meerkats rush as fast as they can to the nearest hole. If from the ground, the troop flees but not quite so fast as meerkats are more able to evade terrestrial predators than airborne raptors.
In ancient Egypt according to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (1.35 & 1.87), native mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon) were venerated for their ability to handle venomous snakes and for their occasional diet of crocodile eggs.
Colombian-born singer-songwriter Shakira named her 2003 world tour the Tour of the Mongoose because "the mongoose is basically one of the few animals who can defeat the most venomous snakes with just one bite. And that's why I decided to name my tour that way, because I think that if we all have a little mongoose inside that can defeat the hatred and the resentment and the prejudice of everyday, we can probably win the battle."
In contrast to the arboreal, nocturnal viverrids, mongooses are more commonly terrestrial and many are active during the day. Most are solitary like the Egyptian Mongoose but a few, for example the Meerkat, have well-developed social systems.
Less diverse than the viverrids, the 30 species and 11 genera of African and Asian mongooses include the Cape Gray Mongoose, the Egyptian Mongoose and the Meerkat or Suricate.
Biology and impacts of Pacific Island invasive species. 1. A worldwide review of effects of the small Indian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus (Carnivora: herpestidae) (1).
Jan 01, 2007; Abstract: The small Indian mongoose, Herpestes javanicus (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1818), was intentionally introduced to at...