GREY MONGOOSE (Small) – Galerella pulverulenta

The Cape Grey Mongoose, also known as Small Grey Mongoose or Galerella pulverulenta, is a mammal commonly found in southern Africa. Its closest relatives are its fellow mongoose species, such as the Angolan Slender Mongoose, Somalian Slender Mongoose, Black Mongoose, and Slender Mongoose.

This mongoose species was first described by German paleontologist and zoologist Johan Andreas Wagner in 1839. Cape Grey Mongooses are commonly preyed by predators such as large predatory mammals, snakes, and raptors. When humans attempt to approach a Cape Grey Mongoose, it will usually scurry into nearby bushes to seek defense. It may also climb trees when threatened because its coat color camouflages well in the tree trunks and branches.

There are three recognized subspecies of the Cape Grey Mongoose: G. p. pulverulenta, G. p. basuticus, and G. p. ruddi.

Cape Grey Mongooses are considered a widespread and successful group, and no population is known to be in danger of extinction. Due to this reason, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorized this species as Least Concern.

Its eight levels of scientific classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Feliformia

Family: Herpestidae

Genus: Galerella

Species: G. pulverulenta

The physical characteristics of a Cape Grey Mongoose

Compared to other mongoose species, the Cape Grey Mongoose is smaller. This species has a long, slender body and a long, bushy tail, all of which account for its average length of 500 to 800 mm. Its long head has a pointed muzzle and small, round ears 15 to 36 mm long. An adult Cape Grey Mongoose is speckled or grizzled gray in color, with legs and feet that become darker in color. Its claws are not well-developed and its teeth show adaptations for both crushing and cutting.

A male Cape Grey Mongoose is larger than a female. In northwest Africa, Cape Grey Mongooses tend to be brownish in color. An adult Cape Grey Mongoose weighs between 0.5 to 1 kg.

The distribution and habitat of Cape Grey Mongooses

The Cape Grey Mongooses are indigenous to southern Africa, particularly in the Cape provinces of South Africa, north to south Namibia, eastern Lesotho, and the Drakensberg range of western KwaZulu-Natal to Mpumalanga. Cape Grey Mongooses are sighted in various habitats, from open areas to semi-arid scrublands to moist forests. They are present in sea level around the Cape provinces, as well as in elevations of up to 1,900 meters in KwaZulu-Natal. They like to frequent thick bushes, rocky out-crops, and boulders filled with grass. They tend to avoid areas with limited vegetation. Cape Grey Mongooses can also be sighted near human settlements, roadsides, and other human structures.

The behavior of a Cape Grey Mongoose

The Cape Grey Mongoose grey-brownish color plays a vital role in survival, as it highly depends on camouflage and caution from predators and other potential threats in the wild. This species is deemed as a diurnal mammal that usually rests during the hottest hours of the day. It is generally solitary, but a male Cape Grey Mongoose exhibits occasional sociality.

Cape Grey Mongooses exhibit foraging behaviors such as scurrying between feeding sites, scratching the ground, and throwing eggs backwards using their forefeet to crack them open. This mammal is considered as a poor digger, so they heavily depend on rocks, abandoned burrows, and hollow tree trunks to defend themselves from prey.

Cape Grey Mongooses are terrestrial mammals that do not use dens unless it’s breeding season. Although there is not much information about the reproduction practices and habits of Cape Grey Mongooses, researches say that pregnant female Cape Grey Mongooses have been sighted from August to October. In contrast, lactating females are present between August to February. The breeding season usually occurs during the end of the rainy season, and different sites such as hollow trees, rock crevices, and abandoned dens are used for breeding the young. A female Cape Grey Mongoose usually gives birth to 1 to 3 young, all of which will remain in the protective dens until they reach independence.

The diet of a Cape Grey Mongoose

This species is primarily carnivorous. Its diet mainly consists of small to middle-sized rodents. Insects are its secondary source of nourishment. Being opportunistic hunters, Cape Grey Mongooses also prey on birds, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, reptilian eggs, arachnids, and decapods.