Yellow mongoose

(Cynictis penicillata)


Yellow mongoose IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Yellow mongoose is a relatively small mongoose with a head-body length of 40-60 cm, a tail of 18-25 cm, and a body-weight of 450-900 g. The colour of the coat is usually reddish-yellow to tawny-yellow with a prominent white tip to the bushy tail. Chin, throat and upper chest are paler than the rest of the body. In the northern part of the species’ range the colour may be more greyish and the white tail-tip may be lacking. The eyes are orange-brown.


Yellow mongoose are diurnal and social, although less gregarious than the banded mongoose or the meerkat, mostly living in small groups of 5-10 animals. They may dig their own burrows, but also share dens with ground squirrels or meerkats. The droppings are deposited in latrines close to the entrances of the burrow.


The young are born mostly between October and March after an gestation period of about 60-62 days. The litter size usually ranges from 1-5 (mostly 2-3) cubs, which are weaned at 10 weeks and reach adult size after 10 months.


Yellow mongoose feed predominantly on insects and other invertebrates, but they also take small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and eggs, and occasionally carrion.

Did you know?
That a yellow mongoose can crack a bird’s egg by rolling it next to a stone or rock and then throwing the egg between its legs so the egg will hit the stone or rock?


Name (Scientific) Cynictis penicillata
Name (English) Yellow mongoose
Name (French) Mangouste jaune, Mangouste fauve
Name (German) Fuchsmanguste
Name (Spanish) Mangosta amarilla
Local names Afrikaans: Geelmeerkat, Rooimeerkat, Witkwasmuishond
seTswana: Tshagane
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and southern Angola)
Habitat Grass- and scrublands, semi deserts
Wild population Still common and widespread (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 176 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Yellow mongoose


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 78 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Hans Hillewaert

Why do zoos keep this animal

Yellow mongoose are not an endangered species. They are however very attractive animals, and because they are always busy and display an interesting social life, are an ideal species for educational purposes. Yellow mongoose exhibits may be combined with underground tunnels and look-outs for children allowing them to play mongoose, which are important means to awake a positive attitude towards animals and nature.


Yellow mongoose may be kept in mixed exhibits, e.g. together with leopard tortoises, porcupines, rock dassies, small antelopes, like steenbok, or hornbills. Note that yellow mongoose will dig out tortoise eggs and readily catch small birds, like weavers, and other small animals, such as lizards.