Banded mongoose have dark brown-black stripes. They live in Africa. © Getty images

Banded mongoose have dark brown-black stripes. They live in Africa. © Getty images

Mongoose live in southern Asia, Africa, and southern Europe.
Mongoose live mainly on the ground but some hunt in trees.

What mongoose look like

Mongoose are small mammals about 40 centimetres long. Their slender bodies are covered with stiff and rough yellow-grey or brown-black hair. They have long faces and bodies, small, rounded ears, short legs, and long, tapering tails.

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

What mongoose eat

Mongoose have long, pointed noses which they use to sniff for, and find prey such as
insects and worms. Their sharp claws help them to dig up their prey. They also eat mice, rats, wild birds, spiders and other small animals. Mongoose eat bird's eggs too, which they throw on the ground with their front paws, to smash them open.

Mongoose are mainly carnivorous (meat eaters) but some species will also eat fruit, nuts and seeds.

Life cycle of mongoose

A female dwarf mongoose with one of her young. © Getty Images

A female dwarf mongoose with one of her young. © Getty Images

Mongoose live alone although males will sometimes live together in small groups and share a burrow. After mating with a male mongoose the female is pregnant for up to 49 days. She gives birth to 2 to 5 young.
 

In captivity mongoose can live for 20 years.

Mongoose kill snakes

Mongoose are famously fierce and able to kill poisonous snakes such as the cobra. They do this by being quick enough to dodge out of the way as the snake tries to strike. The mongoose quickly seizes and kills the snake.

Watch a video of a mongoose in a fight with a cobra


Mongoose are related to civet cats.
Meerkats are a kind of mongoose.
 

  Indian grey mongoose helps people by killing scorpions, rats and snakes. By J.M.Garg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

 
Indian grey mongoose helps people by killing scorpions, rats and snakes.

By J.M.Garg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons