Detailed Pedia

List of herpestids

Collage of four brown or yellow mongooses
Four mongooses (clockwise from top left): meerkat (Suricata suricatta), yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata), Indian grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi), and slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea)

Herpestidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, composed of the mongooses and the meerkat. A member of this family is called a mongoose or a herpestid. They are widespread primarily throughout Africa and south Asia, and are found primarily in forests, savannas, shrublands, and grasslands, though some species can be found in wetlands or deserts. Most mongooses are 30–60 cm (12–24 in) long, plus a 20–40 cm (8–16 in) tail, though the Ethiopian dwarf mongoose can be as small as 18 cm (7 in) plus a 12 cm (5 in) tail, and the white-tailed mongoose can be up to 104 cm (41 in) plus a 47 cm (14 in) tail. Most species do not have population estimates, though one, the Liberian mongoose, is classified as vulnerable with a population size of around 5,000. No herpestid species have been domesticated.

The 34 species of Herpestidae are split into 14 genera within 2 subfamilies: Herpestinae, comprising 23 extant species that are native to southern Europe, Africa and Asia, and Mungotinae, comprising 11 extant species native to Africa. Extinct species have also been placed into both subfamiles, though some older extinct species have not been categorized into a subfamily. Around ten extinct Herpestidae species have been discovered, though due to ongoing research and discoveries the exact number and categorization is not fixed. Herpestidae is believed to have diverged from the existing Feliformia suborder around 21.8 million years ago in the Early Miocene.[1]

Conventions

IUCN Red List categories
Conservation status
 EX Extinct (0 species)
 EW Extinct in the wild (0 species)
 CR Critically endangered (0 species)
 EN Endangered (0 species)
 VU Vulnerable (1 species)
 NT Near threatened (3 species)
 LC Least concern (28 species)
Other categories
 DD Data deficient (1 species)
 NE Not evaluated (1 species)

Conservation status codes listed follow the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Range maps are provided wherever possible; if a range map is not available, a description of the herpestid's range is provided. Ranges are based on the IUCN red list for that species unless otherwise noted.

Classification

The family Herpestidae consists of 34 extant species belonging to 14 genera in 2 subfamilies and divided into dozens of extant subspecies. This does not include hybrid species or extinct prehistoric species.

Herpestidae  
 Herpestinae  

Bdeogale  

Rhynchogale  

Cynictis  

Paracynictis  

Ichneumia  

Galerella  

Atilax  

Herpestes  

 Mungotinae  

Dologale  

Helogale  

Crossarchus  

Liberiictis  

Mungos  

Suricata  

Herpestids

The following classification is based on the taxonomy described by Mammal Species of the World (2005), with augmentation by generally accepted proposals made since using molecular phylogenetic analysis. This includes the promotion of the black mongoose subspecies of the slender mongoose to a full species.[2]

Subfamily Herpestinae

Genus Atilax (F. Cuvier, 1826) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Marsh mongoose

Brown mongoose in water

A. paludinosus
F. Cuvier, 1829

Sub-Saharan Africa
Atilax paludinosus range map.png
Size: 46–64 cm (18–25 in) long, plus 31–41 cm (12–16 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, grassland, inland wetlands, neritic marine, and coastal marine[4]

Diet: Primarily eats crustaceans as well as other aquatic prey and rodents[4]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[4]

Genus Bdeogale (Peters, 1850) – three species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Black-footed mongoose B. nigripes
Pucheran, 1855
Central Africa
Black-footed Mogoose area.png
Size: 45–65 cm (18–26 in) long, plus 30–40 cm (12–16 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest[5]

Diet: Primarily eats mammals, as well as reptiles, birds, insects, and centipedes[5]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[5]

Bushy-tailed mongoose

Black and white mongoose with big tail

B. crassicauda
Peters, 1852

Southeast Africa
Bushy-tailed Mongoose area.png
Size: 36–52 cm (14–20 in) long, plus 22–29 cm (9–11 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, and shrubland[6]

Diet: Omnivorous[6]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[6]

Jackson's mongoose B. jacksoni
Thomas, 1894
East-central Africa
Jackson's Mongoose area.png
Size: 50–58 cm (20–23 in) long, plus 28–33 cm (11–13 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest[7]

Diet: Primarily eats rodents and insects[3][7]
 NT 


Unknown Population declining[7]

Genus Cynictis (Ogilby, 1833) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Yellow mongoose

Standing yellow-brown mongoose

C. penicillata
Cuvier, 1829

Southern Africa
Yellow Mongoose area.png
Size: 26–46 cm (10–18 in) long, plus 16–30 cm (6–12 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Savanna, shrubland, and grassland[8]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, as well as rodents, birds, other vertebrates, and arachnids[8]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[8]

Genus Galerella (Gray, 1865) – four species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Angolan slender mongoose

Brown mongoose on rocks

G. flavescens
Bocage, 1889
Southwestern Africa
Angolan Slender Mongoose area.png
Size: 31–36 cm (12–14 in) long, plus 31–37 cm (12–15 in) tail[9]

Habitat: Shrubland and rocky areas[10]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates, small mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes[10]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[10]

Black mongoose

Black mongoose

G. nigrata
Thomas, 1928
Southwestern Africa Size: 31–36 cm (12–14 in) long, plus 31–37 cm (12–15 in) tail[9]

Habitat: Forest and rocky areas[9]

Diet: Primarily eats small invertebrates and small rodents, as well as birds and lizards[9]
 NE 


Unknown Unknown

Cape gray mongoose

Brown mongoose on rocks

G. pulverulenta
Wagner, 1839

Southern Africa
Cape Gray Mongoose area.png
Size: 29–43 cm (11–17 in) long, plus 20–34 cm (8–13 in) tail[11]

Habitat: Shrubland and inland wetlands[12]

Diet: Primarily eats small mammals and insects[12]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[12]

Slender mongoose

Brown mongoose in grass

G. sanguinea
Rüppell, 1836

Sub-Saharan Africa
Slender Mongoose area.png
Size: 27–35 cm (11–14 in) long, plus 19–33 cm (7–13 in) tail[9]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, and grassland[13]

Diet: Primarily eats small vertebrates and invertebrates[13]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[13]

Somalian slender mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

G. ochracea
Gray, 1848

Eastern Africa
Somali Slender Mongoose area.png
Size: 25–29 cm (10–11 in) long, plus 22–28 cm (9–11 in) tail[9]

Habitat: Shrubland and desert[14]

Diet: Believed to eat invertebrates and small vertebrates[9][14]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[14]

Genus Herpestes (Illiger, 1811) – ten species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Collared mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

H. semitorquatus
Gray, 1846

Borneo in Southeast Asia
Collared Mongoose area.png
Size: 40–46 cm (16–18 in) long, plus 25–31 cm (10–12 in) tail[9]

Habitat: Forest[15]

Diet: Unknown[9][15]
 NT 


Unknown Population declining[15]

Crab-eating mongoose

Black and white drawing of mongoose

H. urva
Hodgson, 1836

Eastern and Southeast Asia
Crab-eating Mongoose area.png
Size: 45–50 cm (18–20 in) long, plus 25–30 cm (10–12 in) tail[16]

Habitat: Forest, shrubland, and grassland[17]

Diet: Primarily eats crustaceans, mammals, reptiles, insects, and amphibians[17]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[17]

Egyptian mongoose

Brown mongoose

H. ichneumon
Linnaeus, 1758

Sub-Saharan Africa, Nile river, and Mediterranean (native, green); Iberian peninsula (introduced, red)
Egyptian Mongoose area.png
Size: 48–60 cm (19–24 in) long, plus 33–55 cm (13–22 in) tail[18]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland, and inland wetlands[19]

Diet: Omnivorous[19]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[19]

Indian brown mongoose

Brown and gray mongoose

H. fuscus
Waterhouse, 1838

South India, Sri Lanka
Indian Brown Mongoose area.png
Size: 33–48 cm (13–19 in) long, plus 20–33 cm (8–13 in) tail[16]

Habitat: Forest and grassland[20]

Diet: Believed to eat a variety of small vertebrates and invertebrates[9][20]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[20]

Indian grey mongoose

Brown and gray mongoose

H. edwardsi
Geoffroy, 1818

India, west Asia
Indian Gray Mongoose area.png
Size: 36–45 cm (14–18 in) long, plus 32–45 cm (13–18 in) tail[16]

Habitat: Forest, shrubland, and grassland[21]

Diet: Primarily eats small mammals, birds, reptiles, eggs, and invertebrates[9][21]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[21]

Javan mongoose

Brown mongoose

H. javanicus
Geoffroy, 1818

West, south, and southeast Asia
Small Asian Mongoose area.png
Size: 25–37 cm (10–15 in) long, plus 24–27 cm (9–11 in) tail[22]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland, and inland wetlands[23]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates, as well as rodents, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and fruit[22][23]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[23]

Long-nosed mongoose H. naso
Winton, 1901
Central Africa
Long-nosed Mongoose area.png
Size: 40–61 cm (16–24 in) long, plus 32–43 cm (13–17 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest and inland wetlands[24]

Diet: Omnivorous[24]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[24]

Ruddy mongoose

Brown mongoose

H. smithii
Gray, 1837

India and Sri Lanka
Ruddy Mongoos area.png
Size: 39–45 cm (15–18 in) long, plus 35–47 cm (14–19 in) tail[16]

Habitat: Forest and shrubland[25]

Diet: Primarily eats rodents, birds, and reptiles[9][25]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[25]

Short-tailed mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

H. brachyurus
Gray, 1837

Southeast Asia
Short-tailed Mongoose area.png
Size: 38–45 cm (15–18 in) long, plus 20–25 cm (8–10 in) tail[26]

Habitat: Forest and shrubland[27]

Diet: Eats invertebrates and small vertebrates[27]
 NT 


Unknown Population declining[27]

Stripe-necked mongoose

Brown mongoose

H. vitticollis
Bennett, 1835

Southern India and Sri Lanka
Stripe-necked Mongoose area.png
Size: 25–41 cm (10–16 in) long, plus 22–36 cm (9–14 in) tail[16]

Habitat: Forest and shrubland[28]

Diet: Eats small mammals, birds, birds' eggs, reptiles, fish, insects, and roots[28]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[28]

Genus Ichneumia (Geoffroy, 1837) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
White-tailed mongoose

Brown and white mongoose

I. albicauda
Cuvier, 1829

Sub-Saharan Africa, southern Arabic peninsula
White-tailed Mongoose area.png
Size: 51–104 cm (20–41 in) long, plus 34–47 cm (13–19 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, grassland, and inland wetlands[29]

Diet: Primarily eats insects[29]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[29]

Genus Paracynictis (Pocock, 1916) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Selous's mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

P. selousi
Winton, 1896

Southern Africa
Selous' Mongoose area.png
Size: 63–90 cm (25–35 in) long, plus 28–43 cm (11–17 in) tail[30]

Habitat: Savanna and grassland[31]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates, as well as small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and birds[30][31]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[31]

Genus Rhynchogale (Thomas, 1894) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Meller's mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

R. melleri
Gray, 1865

Southeastern Africa
Meller's Mongoose area.png
Size: 36–57 cm (14–22 in) long, plus 30–42 cm (12–17 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, and shrubland[32]

Diet: Primarily eats termites, as well as other invertebrates[3][32]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[32]

Subfamily Mungotinae

Genus Crossarchus (F. Cuvier, 1825) – four species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Alexander's kusimanse C. alexandri
Thomas, 1907
Central Africa
Alexander's Cusimanse area.png
Size: 37–44 cm (15–17 in) long, plus 24–32 cm (9–13 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest[33]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates and fruit, as well as frogs, snakes, and carrion[3][33]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[33]

Angolan kusimanse C. ansorgei
Thomas, 1910

Central Africa
Angolan Kusimanse area.png
Size: 32–35 cm (13–14 in) long, plus 20–22 cm (8–9 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest[34]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, small vertebrates, and eggs[3][34]
 LC 


Unknown Population declining[34]

Common kusimanse

Brown dwarf mongoose

C. obscurus
F. Cuvier, 1825
Western Africa
Common Cusimanse area.png
Size: 29–37 cm (11–15 in) long, plus 14–21 cm (6–8 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest and savanna[3][35]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, as well as reptiles, small mammals, and fruit[35]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[35]

Flat-headed kusimanse C. platycephalus
Goldman, 1984
Western central Africa
Flat-headed Kusimanse area.png
Size: 21–47 cm (8–19 in) long, plus 15–21 cm (6–8 in) tail[36]

Habitat: Forest and inland wetlands[37]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, as well as reptiles, small mammals, and fruit[3][37]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[37]

Genus Dologale (Thomas, 1926) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Pousargues's mongoose

Brown mongoose

D. dybowskii
Pousargues, 1893
Central Africa
Pousargues' Mongoose area.png
Size: 24–30 cm (9–12 in) long, plus 16–22 cm (6–9 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, and grassland[38]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates[3][38]
 DD 


Unknown Unknown[38]

Genus Helogale (Gray, 1862) – two species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Common dwarf mongoose

Dark brown mongoose

H. parvula
Sundevall, 1847

Southern and eastern Africa
Common Dwarf Mongoose area.png
Size: 18–23 cm (7–9 in) long, plus 14–19 cm (6–7 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Savanna and grassland[39]

Diet: Primarily eats arthropods, as well as small vertebrates[39]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[39]

Ethiopian dwarf mongoose

Brown mongoose

H. hirtula
Thomas, 1904

Eastern Africa
Ethiopian Dwarf Mongoose area.png
Size: 18–26 cm (7–10 in) long, plus 12–20 cm (5–8 in) tail[40]

Habitat: Savanna, shrubland, and grassland[41]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates[3][41]
 LC 


Unknown Unknown[41]

Genus Liberiictis (Hayman, 1958) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Liberian mongoose L. kuhni
Hayman, 1958
Western Africa
Liberian Mongoose area.png
Size: 42–55 cm (17–22 in) long, plus 18–21 cm (7–8 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest[42]

Diet: Primarily eats earthworms, as well as small vertebrates, insect larvae, and fruit[42]
 VU 


5,200 Population declining[42]

Genus Mungos (Geoffroy, 1795) – two species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Banded mongoose

White and brown mongoose

M. mungo
Gmelin, 1788

Sub-Saharan Africa
Banded Mongoose area.png
Size: 30–40 cm (12–16 in) long, plus 19–31 cm (7–12 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest, savanna, shrubland, and grassland[43]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, as well as other invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, bird eggs, young birds, small mammals, and fruit[43]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[43]

Gambian mongoose

Drawing of brown mongoose

M. gambianus
Ogilby, 1835
Western Africa
Gambian Mongoose area.png
Size: 34–36 cm (13–14 in) long, plus 20–22 cm (8–9 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Forest and savanna[44]

Diet: Primarily eats insects, as well as lizards, mice, and snakes[3][44]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[44]

Genus Suricata (Desmarest, 1804) – one species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Meerkat

Three standing brown mongooses

S. suricatta
Schreber, 1776

Southern Africa
Meerkat area.png
Size: 23–36 cm (9–14 in) long, plus 18–24 cm (7–9 in) tail[3]

Habitat: Savanna, shrubland, grassland, and desert[45]

Diet: Primarily eats invertebrates[45]
 LC 


Unknown Population steady[45]

Prehistoric herpestids

In addition to extant herpestids, a number of prehistoric species have been discovered and classified as a part of herpestidae. There is no generally accepted classification of extinct herpestid species. In addition to being placed within extant genera in the extant subfamilies Herpestinae and Mungotinae, several have not been classified within a subfamily. The species listed here are based on data from the Paleobiology Database. Where available, the approximate time period the species was extant is given in millions of years before the present (Mya), also based on data from the Paleobiology Database.[46] All listed species are extinct; where a genus or subfamily within herpestidae comprises only extinct species, it is indicated with a dagger symbol Extinct.

  • Subfamily Herpestinae
    • Genus Herpestes (16 Mya–present)
      • H. abdelalii (3.6–2.5 Mya)
      • H. auropunctatus
      • H. gracilis
      • H. microdon
      • H. rubrifons
    • Genus Ichneumia (3.6 Mya–present)
      • I. nims (3.6–2.5 Mya)
  • Unclassified
    • Genus KichechiaExtinct (21–15 Mya)
      • K. savagei (21–15 Mya)
      • K. zamanae (21–15 Mya)
    • Genus LegetetiaExtinct
    • Genus UgandictisExtinct (21–15 Mya)
      • U. napakensis (21–15 Mya)

References

  1. ^ Patou, M.; Mclenachan, P. A.; Morley, C. G.; Couloux, A.; Jennings, A. P.; Veron, G. (2009). "Molecular phylogeny of the Herpestidae (Mammalia, Carnivora) with a special emphasis on the Asian Herpestes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 53 (1): 69–80. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.05.038. PMID 19520178.
  2. ^ Rapson, S.; Goldizen, A. W.; Seddon, J. M. (August 2012). "Species boundaries and possible hybridization between the black mongoose (Galerella nigrata) and the slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65 (3): 831–839. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.08.005. PMID 22940151.
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