For Release: February 28, 2006
Sarah Taylor (202) 633-3081
National Zoo Opens New Banded Mongoose Exhibit
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo recently welcomed three banded mongooses to its Small Mammal House in a new exhibit. It has been nearly 30 years since the National Zoo exhibited this species. The Zoo is one of only two zoos in North America that has these social African animals.
Visitors to the Small Mammal House can watch these frisky creatures as they groom each other, dig through the soil in search of food, and climb through the holes of their concrete termite dens. The mongoose exhibit is directly across from the naked mole-rat exhibit.
Banded mongooses are found in the northern and southern African savanna—areas of semi-arid grassland, brush and rocky country. Mongooses typically live in groups of 10 to 20 members and make their dens in termite mounds. They are brownish gray, with dark brown and yellowish or whitish bands across the back.
Their diet consists mainly of large insects—not venomous snakes like some other mongoose species—and it may also include occasional small vertebrates and eggs. To break an egg or crack open the hard shell of an insect, the banded mongoose grasps the item with its forefeet and shoots it backwards between its hind legs toward a hard object. At the National Zoo, keepers provide the mongooses with an enriching diet that includes crickets, mealworms and root vegetables.