Dynamite in the long grass

Kruger National Park · March 2019
By Wessel Booysen
Field Guide

Often seen for only a brief moment on the road, the slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea) is by far one of the most ferocious predators on the planet! Weighing no more than 700 g and 60 cm in length, it has a knack for hunting insects, small birds and a variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians with pinpoint accuracy and efficiency. As the name suggests, the long slender body is accompanied with short, lightning-fast legs and a super long tail with a one-of-a-kind black tuft at the tip. There is great delight in driving around and seeing this species cross the road.

On being discovered, they will stop for only a moment to look back at you and in a blink of an eye disappear into the long grass or scattered shrubs. One could describe them as the ninjas of the African bush!

Fighting well above its own weight class, the slender mongoose has no fear of even large venomous snakes, subsequently killing and eating the unlucky serpent that sails across the path of this small but ferocious
predator. Adult birds will mob-attack and alarm-call at the unwanted sight of this mongoose and different species of mongoose (dwarf mongoose) will become very aggressive and offensive if one comes too close to a den-site that contains young. The truth is, nobody is safe when there is a slender mongoose scurrying around.

Using all of its super sharp senses when out and about, the slender mongoose is a diurnal species but will, at times, forage during warm and moonlit nights. Males hold territories that will include other females but does not play much of a fatherly role once the females give birth to their litters. Females are less territorial and will often forage and move around within sight of other females but will become fiercely protective and aggressive to anything that comes too close to her offspring. After all… there is nothing more frightening in the wild than a mother protecting her babies!

By Wessel Booysen
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