Dwarf Mongoose

© Nigel Dennis


Common dwarf mongoose (helogale parvula)


Being the smallest of the mongoose family, both males and females weigh about 350 to 400 g. They measure 18 - 28 cm in length with a tail nearly as long as its body. Varying from dark chestnut to a light brown, their coats are uniform in colour. The common dwarf mongoose only reaches maturity at the age of two years.

Common Dwarf Mongoose Diet

The common dwarf mongoose feeds on invertebrates such as grasshoppers, termites, beetles and their larvae which they scavenge and dig from the ground. At times they take small vertebrates as prey. While foraging, their troop members remain vigilant to predators.

Common Dwarf Mongoose Breeding

After a gestation period of about 63 days, the gravid female births a little of 2 - 3 young. Breeding mainly during the rainy season, an alpha female can give birth to 2 - 3 litters per year. Only the dominant pair within the troop will breed, and the rest of the pack helps in rearing and fending for the young. Without other common dwarf mongooses helping to raise their young, pairs cannot successfully rear them.

Common Dwarf Mongoose Behaviour

With group sizes as big a 20 individuals, these are sociable, territorial and diurnal animals. They roam and forage in groups, spending their nights in unused termite mounds within their territory.

Common Dwarf Mongoose Habitat

They prefer dry woodland savanna as their habitat.

Where they are found

The common dwarf mongoose can be found in South Africa in the most southern reaches of North West and Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northern KwaZulu-Natal. In countries further north, they are more widespread.

Spoor Description

The common dwarf mongoose has long, sharp and curved claws on its front feet measuring about 10 mm that are well adapted to digging. The claws on the hind feet are shorter, measuring up to 8 mm. The common dwarf mongoose leaves a variety of spoors. Its forefeet have 5 toes, the first toe being small and lying behind the intermediate pad. The first toe and proximal pad of the front feet show when the animal is moving slowly, but not when it is running or trotting. The hind feet have five toes each, the first being behind the other four toes and only showing its claw.

Vital Statistics

Weight (Female): 210 - 340 g
Weight (Male): 210 - 340 g
Length (Female): 18 - 28 cm
Length (Male): 18 - 28 cm
Gestation Period: 1,5 months
No of Young: 2 - 4 young
Order: Carnivora
Family: Viverridae
Breeding: 2 - 4 young are born from October - March after a gestation period of ± 8 weeks.