Shoulder height 20cm. Weight around 1kg.
The banded mongoose is probably the most commonly observed member of a group of small, slender, terrestrial carnivores. Uniform dark grey-brown except for a dozen black stripes across its back, it is a diurnal mongoose occurring in playful family groups, or troops, in most habitats throughout Zambia. It feeds on insects, scorpions, amphibians, reptiles and even carrion and bird's eggs, and can move through the bush at quite a pace.Similar species
: Another eight or so mongoose species occur in Zambia; some are social and gather in troops, others are solitary. Several are too scarce and nocturnal to be seen by casual visitors. Of the rest, the water or marsh mongoose
) is large, normally solitary and has a very scruffy brown coat; it's widespread in the wetter areas. The white-tailed mongoose
), or white-tailed ichneumon, is a solitary, large brown mongoose with long, coarse, woolly hair. It is nocturnal and easily identified by its bushy white tail if seen crossing roads at night. It's not uncommon in cattle-ranching areas, where it eats the beetle-grubs found in the manure.
The slender mongoose
) is as widespread and also solitary, but it is very much smaller (shoulder height 10cm) and has a uniform brown or reddish coat and blackish tail tip. Its tail is held up when it runs, and it is common throughout Zambia where there is lots of cover for it. The dwarf mongoose
) is a diminutive (shoulder height 7cm), highly sociable light brown mongoose often seen in the vicinity of the termite mounds where it nests. This is Africa's smallest carnivore, occurring in a higher density than any other, and is widespread throughout Zambia. Groups of 20–30 are not unknown, consisting of a breeding pair and subordinate others. These inquisitive little animals can be very entertaining to watch.
The large grey mongoose
), also called the Egyptian mongoose, is a large mongoose with course, grey-speckled body hair, black lower legs and feet, and a black tip to its tail. It's found all over Zambia, but is common nowhere, is generally diurnal and is solitary or lives in pairs. It eats small rodents, reptiles, birds and also snakes – generally killing rather than scavenging. The bushy-tailed mongoose
) is a small, mainly nocturnal species that looks mainly black, especially its legs and tail. It is found throughout Zambia, though appears relatively uncommon south of the Zambezi. Meller's mongoose
) is a variable shaggy, grey colour with dark legs and a large muzzle. Its distribution is patchy and somewhat uncertain, but it is thought to occur throughout western Zambia and the Luangwa, but not north of the Serenje–Mbala road. It is solitary and nocturnal, eating a large proportion of termites as well as reptiles, amphibians and fruit. Selous's mongoose
) is smaller, with fine, speckled grey fur, and a white tip at the end of its tail. It likes open country and woodlands, occurring in many areas of southern and western Zambia, even including the Luangwa. It is nocturnal and solitary, eating mainly insects, grubs, small reptiles and amphibians – it seems especially fond of the larvae of dung beetles, and so is sometime found in cattle country.