Small Asian Mongoose

Small Asian Mongoose

Small Indian mongoose, Javan mongoose

Herpestes javanicus
Population size
Life Span
4-8 yrs
0.4-0.7 kg
25-41 cm

The Small Asian mongoose lives in South Asia and Southeast Asia and shares the same geographical area as the Indian gray mongoose for much of its range. It is easily distinguished from the other, as it is much smaller. It has a slender body with an elongated head and pointed snout. Their feet have five toes and long claws. The male has a wider head and is bigger.


This species inhabits most of mainland Asia in the south, from Iraq to China, and also the island of Java. This mongoose has also been released on dozens of Pacific and Caribbean islands (including Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and Jamaica), as well as several in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean and mainland Venezuela. These animals live in dry forest and scrublands, and, on Pacific Islands, in rainforests. They are able to live among fairly well-populated human areas.

Small Asian Mongoose habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Small Asian mongooses are totally diurnal. In captivity, the adults participate in many play activities and games of curiosity. Captive animals of both genders have been observed carrying out mutual grooming, but in the wild this has only been between a mother and her offspring. Considered a solitary species, males sometimes form social groups and share burrows, during the breeding season, at least. These animals engage in behavior for either body warming or body cooling. Warming happens in the early morning by exposing the underparts to the sun as much as possible. In hot sun they usually stop being active before panting. If it is too hot they look for shade and lie on their stomachs on a cool surface, sometimes scratching away a warm surface in the soil before lying down.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Small Asian mongooses are carnivore (insectivores), they eat mostly insects, but, being opportunistic feeders will also eat crabs, frogs, scorpions, spiders, snakes, small mammals, birds and birds’ eggs.

Mating Habits

49 days
1-5 pups
pup, mongopoe

Very little is known about the reproductive behavior of small Asian mongooses. These animals breed during the summer, and gestation lasts approximately 49 days. 1 to 5 babies are born. Males become mature at about 122 days old and females at about 301 days old.


Population threats

There are currently no known major threats to this species. However, their numbers are likely to be restrained in Vietnam and Lao PDR by very heavy hunting in areas populated by people, but, despite that, they are still sometimes seen in the suburbs of large towns. People in the agricultural areas of Thailand also hunt them.

Population number

No estimate of population size is available for this species, but it is evidently large across its range. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List with unknown population trend.

Ecological niche

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

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Small Asian mongooses make about 12 different vocalizations.
  • These animals are famous for killing snakes. They are not immune from the venom but they are able to strike so fast, the snake cannot bite them. The mongoose lashes out with bite after bite until it can grip the snake behind the head, and hold it with its paws. Then it maneuvers so that its hind leg paralyzes the snake.
  • Mongooses crack the shell of an egg or throw it on a hard surface to break it.
  • These animals have non-retractable claws, so they are not able to hide them. Instead their claws are always visible.
  • Once a year, mongooses make a high-pitched sound called "giggling" to let others know that it is ready for mating.
  • Mongooses move into abandoned burrows. They hardly ever dig their own burrows.


1. Small Asian Mongoose Wikipedia article -
2. Small Asian Mongoose on The IUCN Red List site -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About