Yellow Mongoose
Cynictis penicillata
Population size
Life Span
15 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
g oz 
cm inch 

The yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata ), sometimes referred to as the red meerkat, is a member of the mongoose family. It averages about 0.45 kg (1 lb) in weight and about 510 mm (20 in) in length. It lives in open country, semi-desert scrubland and grasslands in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.


The Yellow mongoose is a small African mammal. Its name comes from the color of its coat, which can, in fact, vary among subspecies from yellow to gray. A territorial animal, it defines its boundaries by using different forms of scent-markings. When communicating with others it uses tail movements, but is vocal when playful, angry or scared.



This species occurs throughout southern Africa in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It prefers to live in habitats with open grassland, arid savanna, and scrub areas where it can find a wide range of prey to eat.

Yellow Mongoose habitat map

Climate zones

Yellow Mongoose habitat map
Yellow Mongoose
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Habits and Lifestyle

Yellow mongooses are primarily diurnal and spend most of their day foraging, though sometimes they are active at night. They rest or sunbathe outside their dens before going off to feed and travel. Living in permanent burrows, they often share them with meerkats and ground squirrels, although they can make very complex burrows. Yellow mongooses are a social species and the colonies they live in are usually focused on a family group of a male and female with their youngest offspring, along with subadults, very old adults, and other individuals that have an association with the group. The home ranges of males often overlap and are bigger than those of the females. They are quiet animals, though they will scream during fights, growl when threatened, bark, and purr. The tail may be a means of communication.

Diet and Nutrition

Yellow mongooses are carnivores; they mainly eat insects including, ants, termites, locusts, and beetles. They also eat birds, frogs, lizards, eggs, and small rodents, as well as fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Mating Habits

July-late September
42-57 days
1-5 pups
10 months
pup, mongopoe

Yellow mongooses are polygynous, which means that one male mates with multiple females. The breeding season in the wild is usually from July until late September, so most births occur from October to November. Gestation varies from 42 to 57 days. Females can have as many as 5 offspring but 2-3 are common. Young are born inside a chamber underground in the burrow, and are weaned by about 10 weeks old. It is unknown whether males participate in feeding and caring for the young. These animals are fully grown at 10 months old and can breed from 12 months old.


Population threats

The Yellow mongoose is not faced with any major threats, though the impact of road deaths might be worth considering. In South Africa in the wild, they are a host (or carrier) of a strain of rabies. As a result, many farmers believe that they are a danger to them and their animals, resulting in much hunting of Yellow mongooses. They are also hunted in farmland areas in Western Cape, South Africa, because they are seen as a pest, due to burrowing in crop areas.

Population number

This species is relatively widespread and common throughout its range. According to the Kruger Park resource, the total population size of the Yellow mongoose is estimated to be around 100,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today remain stable.

Ecological niche

Due to the diet, the Yellow mongoose may control the populations of insects, snakes, lizards, etc. They also serve as prey for the birds of prey, snakes, and jackals.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • To break a bird’s egg, the Yellow mongoose will sometimes roll an egg close by a rock or stone, then throw the egg between its legs to hit the rock or stone so the egg breaks.
  • Yellow mongooses are excellent diggers, and their burrows are extensive, with about 40 different entrances, with different chambers and tunnels, up to a depth of 1.5 meters.
  • "Red meerkat" in some places is another name for the Yellow mongoose, due to its reddish color.
  • Mongooses used to be revered by certain ancient civilizations, including Ancient Egyptians, and mummified mongooses have been found in Egyptian tombs.
  • Scent for mongooses is very important for demarcating their territories and signaling their reproductive status. They also “giggle”, making a high-pitched noise, as a sign of mating, being a form of courtship when they are choosing a partner.

Coloring Pages


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

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