The slender mongoose is a lithe little creature that exists across Southern Africa's wilderness areas.
The overall appearance of these creatures, most definitely does justice to its name. It’s very lean or slender body build compared to other species of mongoose, together with its lighter shade of fur both vaguely distinguish it from other species of small mammals. The most prominent feature of its physical appearance however is the black tip of fur at the end of its near 33cm (13 inches) long tail, giving way to 2 more names by which this species goes, the black-tipped or black-tailed Mongoose. Their average size of these animals is between 640 and 715g (22.6 – 25 oz.) in weight.
The Slender Mongoose is spread virtually throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from the western horn of Africa to the opposite side near Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan and right down to parts of the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. This range includes the Congo rain forests, but excludes a portion of land around Cameroon and Gabon as well as the coastal regions of the Namib Desert in Namibia and also most of the Cape and Karoo in South Africa. Their absence in desert habitat or ecosystems within Africa is the only real exclusion when it comes to environments in which they sustain themselves.
The Slender mongoose as a species is definitely in no threat to endangerment as far as any organization is concerned, and is considered the most common mongoose species. Their still great range of distribution over Africa does show how healthy the species is, and all the sub-species of slender mongoose alone are also labeled as least concern when questioning their conservation status. Their populations aren’t actually known, but studies of these mongooses in Tanzania have concluded that their population density in those areas is around 3 to 6 members per square kilometer, a very healthy set of numbers.
These small carnivores are very adaptive to most temperatures, climates, rain patterns and humidity levels, living in a diverse range of habitats and regions throughout their distribution range in Africa, wherever food is readily and consistently available for them to forage, hunt or harvest from the land. Grasshoppers, rodents, snakes, birds, lizards and especially termites are their usual forms of prey these mongooses are after, and even go as far as living within old termite mounds they have finished harvesting for nutrients. Rocks, holes in trees or burrows in the ground are other places in which these animals can be seen resting or sleeping.
The overall social structure of these slender mongooses in the wild is a territorial one. Matured males have their property or territory, usually encompassing a minimum of 50 ha (0, 5 square kilometers), while females have a separate home range or territory that overlaps territories of mongoose males in a ratio of 1 male for every 2 females on average. These females mate with the male whose territory overlaps with theirs. Dominant males may, in some cases, tolerate the presence of an additional male, juvenile or without territory, called a subordinate male. This can continue as long as the dominant male need not share his reproductive privileges with the other male.
Territory marking and the spread of their scent also plays a large role in the social behavior of mongooses. They, both males and females, typically mark their by urinating or leaving their dung, but also have a special anal gland from which a liquid substance is secreted for the purpose of marking by scent. Foreign objects and the borders of their respective territories are the most common areas marked by scent, specifically in the mating season when males use their more pungent anal glands more regularly. In a quarrel between two members of the species, typical methods of violence used are biting at each other’s throats, clasping and rolling, but this is preceded by a warning where their hair is raised and a growling sound is made.
Females are in heat for a week long period, anytime of the year. There is typically no formal courtship before reproduction for these animals, with the first attempts at mating usually coming from the male as he pounces on the female whenever he sees the chance. In the early stages of the female’s estrus cycle (when she is in heat), mating may only last half a minute or so, but gradually grows in length as they end of her cycle nears. Once successfully fertilized, the female bares a litter of 2 to 4 little mongooses for a 2 month-long gestation period, and is able to do this more than once a year if conditions are favorable.
Unfortunately the inferior size of these animals makes them an easy target for larger or medium sized predators, and a competitive form of prey for smaller predatory animals, although they are carnivores themselves. Eagles are their greatest threat, and they quickly find cover whilst alerting others of an eagle’s presence when spotted. Snakes however are a different story. Although some snakes are on their prey rather than their predator list, some larger, more poisonous snakes can pose a great threat to them , but this usually does not faze them as they have been seen attacking all kinds of dangerous snakes with much success.
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