Mongoose, or Mangouste as depicted in the 1851 Illustrated London Reading BookDwarf mongooses wrestling
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Mongoose

A mongoose is any member of the Herpestidae family of small, cat-like carnivores. Mongooses are found in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and southern Europe. There are more than thirty species, ranging between one and four feet in length. more...

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Mongooses feed on insects, crabs, worms, lizards (including iguanas), and other small creatures (as well as eggs and sometimes fruits), but they are best known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes such as cobras (ophiophagy). They are able to do this because of their speed, agility, cunning, and whit.

Some species of mongoose can be easily domesticated and trained to fight. They are fairly intelligent and can be taught simple tricks, so they are often kept as pets to protect the home from vermin. However, they can be more destructive than desired; when imported into the West Indies for the purpose of killing rats, they destroyed most of the small, ground-based fauna. Because of this, it is illegal to import mongooses into the United States, Australia and other countries. Mongooses are widespread in Hawaii, and have had a significant impact on native species. Mongooses are sometimes refered to as "the most dangerous animals on the planet" for this reason.

In Okinawa, Japan, there is/was a tourist attraction of dueling mongoose and a local venomous snake, habu, where the two animals were placed in a closed perimeter and watched by spectators. However, due to pressure from animal rights activists, the spectacle is less common today.

The most famous popular fictional mongoose appears in the Jungle Book: Rudyard Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi". Kipling describes the adventures of a young mongoose defending his human family from a pair of murderous cobras.

The plural form of "mongoose" is typically "mongooses". Since the words "goose" and "mongoose" are not linguistically related, the form "mongeese" is quite rare. However, often the plural of "mongoose" is simply "mongoose" (as in, "there are many mongoose").

Herpestinae

Herpestinae is a subfamily of Mongoose. They are cat-like carnivorans. General features and members of the family balaku. The mongooses belong to one of four families of terrestrial cat-like mammals descended from the Viverraines, which were civet/genet-like mammals. The mongoose family is a close evolutionary relation of the family Viverridae and mongooses are sometimes classified as members of this family. However mongooses have characteristic and distinguishing morphological and behavioural features. In contrast to the arboreal, nocturnal viverrids, mongooses are more commonly terrestrial and many are active during the day. Most are solitary like the Egyptian mongoose but a few, for example meerkats, have well-developed social systems.

Mongooses have long faces and bodies, small rounded ears, short legs and long tapering tails. Most are brindled or grizzled; few have strongly marked coats.

Less diverse than the viverrids, the 35 species and 17 genera of mongooses are assigned to only two subfamilies. The subfamily Herpestinae comprises 30 species of African and Asian mongooses, including the Cape gray mongoose, the Egyptian mongoose and the meerkat or suricate. The subfamily Galidiinae comprises the five species of Madagascan mongooses.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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