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Mongooses and Fossa: Herpestidae

Ring-tailed Mongoose (galidia Elegans;): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: In appearance, the ring-tailed mongoose more or less follows the general mongoose body plan, while being a particularly beautiful and striking species, with red-brown to dark brown body fur and a long, bushy tail striped alternately with broad, red-brown and black rings. The underside is very dark to black. The head-and-body length of an adult Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose runs 12.5 to 14 inches (32 to 36 centimeters), tail length, 10.5 to 12.5 inches (27 to 32 centimeters), and body weight of 1.5 to 2.2 pounds (0.7 to 1 kilograms).

Geographic range: This mongoose lives in eastern and western Madagascar.

Ring-tailed mongooses feed on small mammals, birds, birds' eggs, frogs, fish, reptiles, insects, and fruits. (Photograph by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: The ring-tailed mongoose inhabits humid tropical rainforest along Madagascar's east and northwestern coasts, and drier, seasonal forest along much of the west coast.

Diet: Ring-tailed mongooses feed on small mammals, birds, birds' eggs, frogs, fish, reptiles, insects, and fruits. They also prey on two small primate species native to Madagascar, the greater dwarf lemur, and the brown mouse lemur.

Behavior and reproduction: Ring-tailed mongooses mate from April to November, and a single young is born from July to February. The gestation period runs seventy-nine to ninety-two days. The young is sexually mature at two years of age. A captive ring-tailed mongoose lived for over thirteen years.

Malagasy ring-tailed mongooses forage and hunt during daylight. They can swim and climb trees easily but do most foraging on the ground. These mongooses forage and hunt in groups of up to five, each group made up of a mated pair and offspring. As they wander, the mongooses mark trees and rocks of their territory with anal scent glands. They shelter in burrows during nights.

The ring-tailed mongoose and people: This animal seems to have little fear of humanity other than natural caution, and will investigate native villages and biological research camps, stealing whatever human garbage or food they can lay hands on. They may add domestic poultry to their diets, resulting in people hunting and harrassing them.

Conservation status: This mongoose is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Some naturalists, after very recent surveys of the species in Madagascar, consider it of little or no conservation concern because of its high numbers and adaptability. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsMongooses and Fossa: Herpestidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Mongooses And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE