Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose)

[= Herpestes pulverulentus]

klein grysmuishond, Kaapse grysmuishond [Afrikaans]; Kleinichneumon [German]; mangouste gris du Cap [French]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Laurasiatheria > Ferungulata > Ferae > Carnivora > Family: Herpistidae (suricates and mongooses)

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose)

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose), Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cape Peninsula. [photo Robert Lewis ]

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose) Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose)

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose), Rondevlei Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose), Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cape Peninsula. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose) Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose)

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose), Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cape Peninsula. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Galerella pulverulenta (Cape grey mongoose, Small grey mongoose), Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cape Peninsula. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Endemic to southern Africa, occurring in habitats varying from scrubland to forest. However, it is not found in the Savanna Biome. Eats mainly invertebrates but also preys on birds, mammals and reptiles.

Distribution and habitat

Widespread south of the Orange River, through Lesotho, southern Free State and marginally into Kwazulu-Natal. Has a wide habitat tolerance, from forest to open scrubland, but is absent from savanna habitats.

Identification

As its common name suggests the small grey mongoose is one of the smaller mongoose species and is uniformly grey in colour. The shade of grey may vary from light to dark and the coat has a grizzled appearance. In the north-west areas the animals may be more brownish in colour. The legs are a darker grey than the rest of the body. It has a typical elongated mongoose body-shape, the head is long and with a pointed muzzle. The ears are small and rounded and situated on the sides of the head. The tail is long and bushy. The teeth show adaptations for both cutting and crushing.

Size

Body length 55-69 cm; weight range 0.5 –1.0 kg.

Dental Formula

  I C P M = 38

General behaviour

The mongoose is diurnal but tends to rest up during the hottest time of the day. Caution and camouflage are important for survival. Their predators include larger predatory mammals and raptors. They are usually solitary but may be seen in pairs or with young. They are predominantly bush dwellers, and may occasionally climb trees while foraging or when threatened. Poor diggers they utilize piles of rocks, crevices, deserted burrows and hollows in tree trunks for shelter when there is not sufficient bush cover. Frequently seen crossing roads, they move at a quick trotting pace on their short legs and hold their tails close to the ground. Home ranges of animals overlap and it is not certain if this species is territorial. Often they live in close association with man e.g. under the floors of outbuildings and even live successfully on the fringe of suburbia.

Food

Predominantly invertebrates (mainly insects) and small rodents, also includes amphibians, birds (including eggs and young from nests), reptiles and some wild fruits. Birds loath these animals - in the Cape if you hear a whole lot of birds giving their alarm calls, it is usually either a snake or the Cape grey mongoose.

The Cape grey mongoose is predominantly insectivorous but also carnivorous. Insects are caught on the ground and then held down with the forefeet and eaten. Large prey such as rodents are stalked and then pounced on and bitten. The killing bite is then given to the head. Larger prey items are held down with the forefeet and then torn into bite size pieces with the teeth.

Reproduction

Litters of 1 – 3 young are born from August to December and hidden in burrows, rock crevices or tree hollows. At birth the pups are fully furred, but their eyes and ears are closed, opening after about a fortnight. Females are not seen accompanied by young. This is because the young remain in the breeding burrow until they are fully weaned, only leaving its shelter when they are capable of looking after themselves.

Life span

8-9 years

Conservation

Mongooses are widespread and a successful group and no species is known to be in danger of extinction.

Text by Denise Hamerton


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