July 26, 2019
A Mob of Mongooses
- as seen by -Joe Nappi
A small cloud of dust kicks up while a soft purr-like chirp can be heard. A tiny brown head appears, and the figure quickly scampers up a termite mound, scanning the area for danger. Soon there are more chirps and over a dozen dwarf mongooses start to dig, scent mark, and search around their desert-like domain. They are joined in their exploration for insects by a pair of Von der Decken’s hornbills (Tockus deckeni).
Dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula) are Africa’s smallest carnivore species and are one of 34 different species of mongooses ranging from meerkats (Suricata suricatta), the largest representative of the family, all the way down to dwarf mongooses, the smallest. They range through a variety of different habitats including savannah, woodlands, brush country, and mountain scrub. They prefer territories that include termite mounds or rock crevices and thickets. Hollow logs, termite mounds, and rock outcroppings are utilized for shelter as well as for safe havens for pups.
Dwarf mongooses have a symbiotic relationship with several different species of hornbills in the wild. The hornbills watch out for danger, such as birds of prey, and in return, the mongooses stir up insects that the hornbills eat alongside their furry counterparts.
The Bronx Zoo’s Carter Giraffe Building is home to 16 dwarf mongoose. Be sure to stop by and experience their charismatic antics on your next visit.