The Marsh mongoose is a medium-sized mammal native to sub-Saharan Africa. Its fur is dark reddish brown to black in color with white and fawn colored guard hairs. The hair behind the neck and in front of the back is short but longer on the hind legs and on the tail. Its muzzle is short with a fawn colored mouth, short whiskers, and a naked rhinarium. Its feet have five flexible digits each with curved claws but without any webbing. The soles of its feet are naked. Both sexes have anal glands in a pouch that produce a musky smelling secretion.
Marsh mongooses occur in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia, and south to Southern Africa, except Namibia. They inhabit freshwater wetlands such as marshes and swamps along slow-moving rivers and streams, but also estuaries in coastal areas. Sometimes they can be found away from watercourses in forested areas but only for short periods of time.
Marsh mongooses are solitary creatures. They are excellent swimmers and can dive for up to 15 seconds, using their feet to paddle. On land, they usually trot slowly, but can also move fast. These animals are crepuscular, being active from shortly after sunset until after midnight, but not during the day. During the day they usually rest in burrows situated in dry areas above water and mud in the dense cover of high grasses and climbing plants or in rocky areas. Marsh mongooses are highly territorial. They always follow pathways that are smooth and well-defined. These pathways usually follow rivers or shorelines and are hidden by tall grass and reed clumps. March mongooses hunt in a very interesting way. To catch a bird, the mongoose lies on its back pretending as if it's sunbathing. In this position, the pale, pink anal area assumes a startling prominence against the surrounding dark fur. This display attracts birds to approach and peck at the anal area, at which time the mongoose catches the bird. Marsh mongooses communicate with the help of different sounds. When threatened they make a low growl and when excited - a high-pitched cry and an open-mouthed bleat. When the mongoose is cornered or distressed, it will emit a strong-smelling brown fluid from its anal sacs and curl itself into a ball.
These animals have an omnivorous diet. They feed on crabs, prawns, fish, rats, mice, frogs, snakes, spiders, birds, snails and slugs. They also eat fruits, berries, and seeds.
Little is known about the mating system in Marsh mongooses. They breed twice a year, in the middle of the dry season and during the rainy season. Females prepare nests of dry grass in a hole. If there are no holes available in swampy areas, the young are raised on a nest of reeds, grass, and sticks. After a gestation period of 69 to 80 days, females give birth to a litter of 2-3 fully furred pups. Their eyes open between the 9th and 14th day. Pups start to take food after about a month and become fully weaned at the age of 2 months.
There are no major threats to Marsh mongooses at present. However, they do suffer from hunting, pollution, habitat loss and encroachment by humans into their habitat. These animals are dependent on riverine vegetation for shelter, and the loss of this habitat may affect population declines in some areas.
According to IUCN, Marsh Mongooses are abundant and widespread throughout their range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.