Class Mammalia

Order Carnivora

Family Herpestidae

Genus Mungos

Species mungo

Habitat & Range

Banded mongoose can be found in a variety of habitats, including savannas, forest, shrubland and grasslands in Africa. They might be found anywhere from Gambia to northeast Ethiopia and south to the border of South Africa.


Banded Mongoose

Mungos mungo

These little carnivores are opportunistic feeders and eat mostly insects and a variety of other invertebrates. Small mammals, reptiles and birds are occasionally in their diet. They will also eat eggs and sometimes fruits. When breaking into tough food items like eggs and invertebrates, banded mongoose use their sharp teeth or will sometimes throw objects to break them open.


  • Banded mongooses will gather and move together as a group toward a predator to scare it away – this is called “bunching”. They will also vocalize aggressively. They also have been seen as a group chasing a predator or lunging at it, to force it to drop a captured mongoose.
  • Banded mongoose are diurnal and prefer to den in old termite mounds. They create usually create a central sleeping chamber with up to 9 entry points. When not breeding, they move dens every 2-3 days.
  • The pattern and coloration of the banded mongoose’s fur helps them blend into their surroundings and evade predators.
  • They have an excellent smell, vision and hearing.

Physical Description

  • Typically, a banded mongoose weighs from three-and-a-half to five pounds (1.59-2.27 kg).
  • They have brownish-gray fur with dark brown stripes on the back of its body, which ranges from 12 to 16 inches (30.4-38.1 cm) long.
  • The face is long with small rounded ears. It has short legs.
  • This species has an 8 inch (20.3 cm) bushy tail that tapers to a black tip.


What Does It Eat?

In their historic range: Mongooses are opportunistic feeders and eat mostly insects and a variety of other invertebrates. Small mammals, reptiles and birds are occasionally in their diet. They will also eat eggs and sometimes fruits.

At the zoo: They are fed a variety of fruits and vegetables, ground meat, crickets, wax worms, earthworms and mealworms.

What Eats It?

Jackals, leopards, lions, cheetah, large snakes, African wild dogs, birds of prey

Social Organization

Banded mongooses are diurnal. They travel in packs of 15-20 individuals, generally led by the dominant female with the dominant male close behind. They communicate within the pack by a series of low calls. High-pitched calls are made when a predator approaches. They vigorously defend their territory.

Life Cycle

Banded mongooses breed within their packs. Females are ready to breed at 9-12 months old and males may be sexually mature at about 4 months old. However, several larger dominant males “mate-guard” females who are ready to breed so younger males have limited access. But females will go to considerable lengths to escape and mate with other males in the group. Males and females will mate with multiple partners. Each pack produces about 4 litters a year but, in areas where there are more pronounced seasonal weather changes, they breed only during the rainy season, when food is more abundant. Generally after a two-month gestation period, two to eight young are born. They are blind, with very little fur. Their eyes will open in about ten days. One or two adults guard the young in the den, while the rest of the adults forage for food. Lactating females of the pack nurse the young - not necessarily their own. Males gather food for the young to eat. Life span in Africa is about 10 years although pup mortality is very high. In managed care settings like zoos, banded mongoose live about 15 years.

Collection Connection

  • Denver Zoo has a small group of banded mongoose. Each animal has a special shave spot or haircut that helps staff quickly identify them. The group usually sleeps in a pile and loves blankets.
  • The banded mongoose can be found at Predator Ridge near the entrance of the zoo.

Conservation Status

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Banded mongoose are widespread and thriving.

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