Grizzled grey and reddish brown on the lower back. A series of narrow darker stripes run across the back from just behind the shoulders to the base of the tail. The suricate has wider and less clear stripes. The tail has long hair at the base and tapers to a thin and darker tip whereas the suricate has a thin tail with a dark tip. The feet have five toes, all with claws. Claws on the the front feet are longer for digging. Four toes on each foot mark in the spoor. The tail is long-haired at the base, a thin darker tip (suricate has thin tail with dark tip). Females have three nipples on the belly. Average total length is 59 cm, tail 24 cm and weight 1.3kg.
Woodland. Seasonally dependent on water.
Active during the day. Emerges from dens after sunrise and return before sunset. Highly social, living in packs of about a dozen, typically up to about 30. Packs sleep together and forage in loose groups keeping in contact by a continual high-pitched twitter. Each mongoose obtains its own food. The alarm call is a sudden sharp chittering which causes pack members to freeze, stand up and to look at the danger and then slip quietly away. Sudden alarms send them quickly diving into nearby cover. When there are young in the group the adults bunch around them for protection and the group moves off together. Scent marking is done with anal gland secretion and urine. Pack members groom and anal mark each other. Until the young are five weeks old babysitters, usually adult males, stay at the den while the rest of the pack forages. Adults catch prey and give it to juveniles. Small predators such as jackals are driven off by group attacks. Traveling pack moves in undulating columns; foraging pack spreads out moving in the same direction. They scratch in litter like chickens, poking noses in every hole, using claws to extract prey. Elephant dung with beetles are announced by excited twittering.
African Elephant | African Fish Eagle | Banded Mongoose | Bat-Eared Fox | Black-Backed Jackal | Blue Wildebeest | Burchell’s Zebra | Bushbuck | Cape Buffalo | Cape Rock Hyrax | Chacma Baboon | Greater Flamingo | Grey Lourie | Grey Rheebuck | Hadeda Ibis | Helmeted Guineafowl | Hippopotamus | Impala | Klipspringer | Kudu | Large Spotted Genet | Leopard | Lesser Bushbaby | Lion | Ostrich | Red Squirrel | Reedbuck | Samango Monkey | Secretary Bird | Side-Striped Jackal | Southern Ground Hornbill | Spotted Hyaena | Springbok | Suricate | Thick-Tailed Bushbaby | Tree Squirrel | Trumpeter Hornbill | Vervet Monkey | White Rhinoceros