Banded mongooses have a coarse, brownish-gray coat, dark feet, a black-tipped tail and dark bands across their back. These bands are found between the mid-back and base of the tail and are a distinguishing feature of this mongoose species. Their front feet have five digits, with long, curved claws, used for scratching and digging. Their hind feet have four digits and also have claws, although these claws are shorter, heavier and not as curved as the front claws.
They are about 12-18 inches (30-45 centimeters) long with a 6-12 inch (15-30 centimeter) long tail. They weigh 3-5.5 pounds (1.5-2.5 kilograms).
Banded mongooses are found in Africa, south of the Sahara, except for the Congo and southwestern Africa. They live in open habitat in grasslands, brush lands, woodlands and rocky country. They have a large range and may travel more than 5 miles a day to forage.
They generally stay in one particular den for a few days at a time, a week at most, and will frequently return to favorite sites. While they are able to dig their own burrows, these mongooses will usually use a natural crevice or an existing hole created by another animal.
They have developed a vocabulary of calls to communicate with each other, as well as anal and cheek glands to scent-mark their territory. They may also scent-mark each other after group separation or a mild scare.
Banded mongooses are primarily insectivorous but eat a variety of foods, including beetles, crabs, earthworms, fallen fruit, grasshoppers, birds, eggs, rodents, scorpions, slugs, snails, snakes and termites. To break open hard food objects, such as eggs or snails, they throw the object vertically or backward, between the hind legs and into a stone or other hard object.
They are very possessive of food, and when they find food they eat it right away; there is no food sharing.
Unlike many mongoose species, banded mongooses are social and live in packs that average around 10 to 20 individuals, but can have as many as 40 individuals. There is one dominant male in the pack.
There are no major threats to the banded mongoose. This species is widespread in its habitat.