Dwarf Mongoose

(Helogale parvula)




Facts about this animal

With a total length of 38 cm, the dwarf mongoose is the smallest species of mongoose. Adults weigh about 300 g. The colouration of the dwarf mongoose is variable, but it is generally a reddish-buff with specks of brown and grey. The belly is lighter, while the legs and tail are darker. In some, there is a red patch on the throat and chest. Dwarf mongoose have a domed forehead, with short, rounded ears. The muzzle is short, with teeth adapted to an insect diet. The tail tapers to a point. Their fur is short, dense and smooth. They have 2 pairs of mammae, and their anal glands are well-developed.


Dwarf mongooses are diurnal and are gregarious, living in matriarchally organized bands of between 8 and 30 members, and very vocal, communicating with each other continuously with a wide range of twitters and whistles as they scuttle about looking for food. Members of the troop use their incisor teeth to groom either each other or themselves.


The matriarch is the only female who is allowed to breed, and she surpresses sexual activity in the group. The alpha male, who is a rank below her, spends his time at the den top, a termite mound, scanning for danger. The social ranking within the rest of the group is based on age, with the youngest individuals having the highest ranks. This highly unusual social arrangement probably assures that the young will get sufficient food without having to compete with the adults. Older members of the pack will help care for and feed the young. They bring food back to the dens, groom and play with, and babysit the younger mongooses. Some of the youngest animals, in addition to the alpha male, are appointed watchers to look for danger while the others groom and play.

Did you know?
That the dwarf mongoose is the smallest carnivore in Africa, with a body length of only about 25 cm?


Name (Scientific) Helogale parvula
Name (English) Dwarf Mongoose
Name (French) Mangouste naine
Name (German) Zwergmanguste
Name (Spanish) Mangosta enana
Local names Afrikaans: Dwergmuishond
kiSwahili: Nguchiro
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Miika Silfverberg



Range Eastern and southern Africa
Habitat Savanah, woodlands, brush country and mountain scrub
Wild population Unknown, but stable (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 190 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

Dwarf 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
Schuyler Sheperd

Why do zoos keep this animal

The dwarf mongoose is not an endangered species. Diurnal mongooses are however very attractive species, and because they are always busy and display an interesting social life, are ideal species for educational purposes. In the wild, dwarf mongooses have a symbiotic relationship with Gerrhosaurus lizards, with which they share their burrows, and hornbills or other insectivorous birds, with which they form foraging parties. This cohabitation can easily be demonstrated also at the zoo.