Dwarf moongooses have a smooth, glossy coat, which varies in color but is generally speckled brown to black. Their tails and lower legs are typically darker with slightly paler undersides.
They measure 7 to 10 inches long (18 to 26 centimeters) and have tails 4.7 to 8 inches long (12 to 20 centimeters). Males weigh about 11.4 ounces (326 grams) and females are slightly smaller.
Dwarf mongooses are found from Somalia and Ethiopia to eastern South Africa and Namibia. They live in savannah, woodlands, brush country and mountain scrub. Their elevation range varies from sea level up to 5,900 feet (1,800 meters). They prefer territories that include termite mounds or rock crevices and woody vegetation, such as thickets or scattered bush.
Mongooses use anal and cheek gland secretions to mark upright objects near termite mounds used as overnight refuges.
Dwarf mongooses eat mostly insects, including beetles and grasshoppers, though they may also eat spiders, scorpions, small vertebrates, eggs and fruit. They spend most of their days looking for food among brush, leaves and rocks. They forage in groups, but each individual catches its own food. They kill their prey with a bite to the head. Dwarf mongooses are water independent but will drink when water is available.
Births occur mainly during the rainy season from Nov. to May, and the alpha female often has three litters a year. Gestation lasts 49 to 56 days, and the average litter size is four mongooses. Young nurse for 45 days and may begin eating solid food before being fully weaned. Juveniles begin to forage with the group at around 6 months of age. Full sexual maturity isn't reached until about 3 years of age.
Dwarf mongooses are diurnal, and begin and end each day sunbathing and socializing with the pack at their burrows.
Dwarf mongooses can reach 18 years of age. Their main predators are large gray mongooses, raptors, snakes, marabou storks, jackals and monitor lizards.
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