Common Dwarf Mongoose

Common Dwarf Mongoose

Dwarf mongoose

Helogale parvula
Population size
Life Span
10-18 years
g oz 
cm inch 

The common dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula ) is a mongoose species native to Angola, northern Namibia, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Zambia and East Africa. It is part of the genus Helogale and as such is related to H. hirtula.


Common dwarf mongooses are the smallest African carnivores. They have a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, short limbs, and long claws. Their soft fur is very variable in color, ranging from yellowish red to very dark brown.



Common dwarf mongooses range from East to southern Central Africa, from Ethiopia to the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the Republic of South Africa. These animals are usually found in dry grassland, open woodlands, wooded savannas, and bushland. They are especially common in areas with many termite mounds and avoid dense forests and deserts.

Common Dwarf Mongoose habitat map

Climate zones

Common Dwarf Mongoose habitat map
Common Dwarf Mongoose
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Habits and Lifestyle

Common dwarf mongooses are diurnal animals. They are highly social and live in extended family groups of 2 to 30 animals. There is a strict hierarchy among same-sexed animals within a group, headed by the dominant pair (normally the oldest group members). All group members cooperate in helping to rear the pups and in guarding the group against predators. Dwarf mongooses are territorial, and each group uses an area of approximately 30-60 hectares. They sleep at night in disused termite mounds, although they occasionally use piles of stones, hollow trees, etc. Mongooses mark their territory with anal gland and cheek gland secretions and latrines. Territories often overlap slightly, which can lead to confrontations between different groups, with the larger group tending to win. Common dwarf mongooses begin and end each day sunbathing and socializing with the members of their groups. The rest of the day these animals spend looking for food among brush and rocks. They communicate with each other with the help of twitters, whistles, trills, and vibrations.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Common dwarf mongooses are carnivores (insectivores). Their diet consists of beetle larvae, termites, grasshoppers and crickets, spiders, scorpions, small lizards, snakes, small birds, and rodents, and is supplemented very occasionally with berries.

Mating Habits

53 days
4-6 pups
10 weeks
pup, mongopoe

Little is known about the mating system in Common dwarf mongooses. They tend to breed during the wet season, between October and April, raising up to three litters. Usually, only the group's dominant female becomes pregnant, and she is responsible for 80% of the pups reared by the group. If conditions are good, subordinate females may also become pregnant, but their pups rarely survive. After the gestation period of 53 days, 4-6 young are born. They remain below ground within a termite mound for the first 2-3 weeks. Normally one or more members of the group stay behind to babysit while the group goes foraging. Subordinate females often produce milk to feed the dominant female's pups. At 4 weeks of age, the pups begin accompanying the group. All group members help to provide them with prey items until they are around 10 weeks old. Young mongooses attain reproductive maturity by one year of age but delay dispersal, with males usually emigrating (in the company of their brothers) at 2-3 years old. Females normally remain in their home group for life, queuing for the dominant position. They will, however, emigrate to find a new group if they lose their place in the hierarchy to a younger sister.


Population threats

There no major threats to these animals at present.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Common dwarf mongoose total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Being insectivorous, these animals may affect insect populations in their range.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Common dwarf mongooses and hornbills prefer to forage together and warn each other of nearby raptors and other predators.
  • Hornbills usually gather at termite mounds, the favorite sleeping places of mongooses, and wait for them to come out. Hornbills sometimes even provide them with wake-up calls. In case hornbills don't appear, mongooses may even hesitate to leave their homes and begin foraging.
  • Dominant males always patrol surroundings and warn other group members of potential danger, or if it is time for the group to move on to another location. He usually stands on the top of a termite mound and if he senses danger, he vocalizes to warn the rest members of the group.

Coloring Pages


1. Common Dwarf Mongoose on Wikipedia -
2. Common Dwarf Mongoose on The IUCN Red List site -

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