A mongoose is a small terrestrial carnivorous mammal belonging to the family Herpestidae. This family is currently split into two subfamilies, the Herpestinae and the Mungotinae. The Herpestinae comprises 23 living species that are native to southern Europe, Africa and Asia, whereas the Mungotinae comprises 11 species native to Africa. The Herpestidae originated about 21.8 ± 3.6 million years ago in the Early Miocene and genetically diverged into two main genetic lineages between 19.1 and 18.5 ± 3.5 million years ago.
Mongooses have long faces and bodies, small, rounded ears, short legs, and long, tapering tails. Most are brindled or grizzly; a few have strongly marked coats which bear a striking resemblance to mustelids. Their nonretractile claws are used primarily for digging. Mongooses, much like goats, have narrow, ovular pupils. Most species have a large anal scent gland, used for territorial marking and signaling reproductive status.
Mongooses are one of at least four known mammalian taxa with mutations in the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor that protect against snake venom. Their modified receptors prevent the snake venom α-neurotoxin from binding. These represent four separate, independent mutations. In the mongoose, this change is effected, uniquely, by glycosylation.
In 1989, zoologist W. Christopher Wozencraft noted that while the phylogenetic relationships in Mungotinae were obscure, studies in the latter part of 20th century supported two monophyletic clades in Herpestinae: one consisting of Atilax and Herpestes, and the other comprising Bdeogale, Ichneumia and Rhynchogale. Like other feliformian carnivorans, mongooses descended from the viverravines, which were civet- or genet-like mammals.
Herpestina was a scientific name proposed by Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1845 who considered the mongooses a subfamily of the Viverridae. In 1864, John Edward Gray classified the mongooses into three subfamilies: Galidiinae, Herpestinae and Mungotinae. This grouping was supported by Reginald Innes Pocock in 1919, who referred to the family as “Mungotidae“.
Mongoose are primarily African in origin, although one genus is widespread throughout Asia and southern Europe, and several genera are found only on Madagascar. Recent research on domestication issues (in the English language academic press, anyway), has principally focused on the Egyptian or white-tailed mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon).
The relationship between mongooses and people seems to have taken at least a step towards domestication in the New Kingdom of Egypt (1539-1075 BC). New Kingdom mummies of Egyptian mongooses were found at the 20th dynasty site of Bubastis, and in Roman period Dendereh and Abydos.
In fact, mongooses don’t seem to have ever been domesticated in the true sense of the word. They don’t require feeding: like cats, they are hunters and can get their own dinners. Like cats, they can mate with their wild cousins; like cats, given the opportunity, mongooses will return to the wild. There are no physical changes in mongooses over time which suggest some domestication process at work. But, also like cats, Egyptian mongooses can make great pets if you catch them at an early age; and, also like cats, they are good at keeping the vermin down to a minimum: a useful trait for humans to exploit.
Other mongooses, specifically the Indian gray mongoose, H. edwardsi, are known from Chalcolithic sites in India (2600-1500 BC). A small H. edwardsii was recovered from the Harrappan civilization site of Lothal, ca 2300-1750 BC; mongooses appear in sculptures and associated with specific deities in both Indian and Egyptian cultures. None of these appearances necessarily represent domesticate animals.
The Indian grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi) is a mongoose species native to the Indian subcontinent and West Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The grey mongoose inhabits open forests, scrublands and cultivated fields, often close to human habitation. It lives in burrows, hedgerows and thickets, among groves of trees, and takes shelter under rocks or bushes and even in drains. It is very bold and inquisitive but wary, seldom venturing far from cover. It climbs very well. Usually found singly or in pairs. It preys on rodents, snakes, birds’ eggs and hatchlings, lizards and variety of invertebrates. Along the Chambal River it occasionally feeds on gharial eggs. It breeds throughout the year.
The Indian grey mongoose has tawny grey or iron grey fur, which is more grizzled and stiffer and coarser than that of other mongooses. The ruddiness of the coat varies in different subspecies, but it is described as appearing more grey than other mongooses. The grizzled appearance comes from the individual hairs being ringed by creamy-white and black. The legs are brown and darker than the body. The hair around the muzzle and eyes is also brown but with a stronger rusty red colouring. The tail is bushy, whilst the tip of the tail, if coloured, is pale yellow or white.
It has been generally accepted that the Indian grey mongoose occurs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, as represented by the distribution map. A 2007 study found specimens also in Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, thus extending the known range.
Despite being a common animal, the natural history of the Indian grey mongoose is not well known. They appear to be able to occupy a wide variety of habitats but preferring open types. These include grasslands, open areas, rocky patches, scrub, semi-desert, cultivated fields and other disturbed areas, areas of thickets, bushy vegetation, dry secondary forest, thorn forest, forest edges, and also near human settlement. Although the creature has been described as being less dependent on human settlements, observations in India in heavily forested areas show it to be much more common around human settlements often scavenging on waste.
The Indian grey mongoose is omnivorous, though most of its diet is made up from live prey it catches from being an opportunistic hunter, with mice, rats, lizards, snakes, and beetles making up the bulk. Also eaten are ground birds, their eggs, grasshoppers, scorpions, centipedes, frogs, crabs, fish, and parts of plants: fruits, berries, and roots, as well as larger prey including hares and egrets. It kills prey by delivering a bite to the neck or head.
This species is known for its ability to combat venomous snakes. It primarily achieves this through tiring the snake out, by enticing it to make multiple strikes which it acrobatically avoids. Secondary protection against the venomous bite includes the stiff rigid hair, which is excited at such times, the thick loose skin and specialised acetylcholine receptors render it resistant or immune to snake venom. When dealing with scorpions, no measures are taken to disable the sting, and they are picked up in any manner.
Some species of mongoose are very social and live in large groups called colonies. Colonies can have as many as 50 members, according to ADW. Other species of mongoose like to live alone. Mongooses can live for up to 20 years in captivity, according to National Geographic. Many mongoose species have a very strong, unpleasant smell due to secretions from its anal glands. Indian mongooses groom each other.
The Indian grey mongoose is often kept as a pet to keep dwellings free from rats and other pests. The Indian grey mongoose is the state animal of Chandigarh.
Some species, mainly the Javan mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) but also the Indian gray mongoose, were introduced to numerous islands, including Mafia Island (off the coast of East Africa), Mauritius, and those of Croatia, Hawaii, and Fiji. Originally intended to help control rodents and snakes, these introductions were disastrous, because the mongooses severely depleted the populations of native fauna. Because of their potential destructiveness, importation of all mongooses into the United States is strictly regulated.
Although in some parts of the world the Indian mongoose is viewed as a pest the animal’s pest-destroying abilities have long been recognized by Indian society. Archeological evidence from Harappan sites shows that the mongoose frequented human habitation perhaps in a semi-domesticated condition. Although from Vedic times onward attitudes toward the animal vary, literary sources portray the mongoose as the deadly enemy of the snake and other poisonous creatures y a motif common in Indian folk lore and even seen indirectly in the European folk tradition. The mongoose is also associated with riches and identifies the tutelary god of wealth in Buddhist iconography. Indian culture generally represents the mongoose as an animal useful to man and the loose ties that have evolved between mongoose and society in India are characteristic of an early stage in the domestication process, though it is unlikely that this will proceed any further.
The species is protected in India, but an illegal trade in hair for the purposes of making of paint brushes and shaving brushes continues, and this is one of its most significant threats. About 3000 mongoose were killed to produce 155 kg. of raw mongoose hair, which were seized by Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in 2018.
In November 2019 in India, during one ‘Operation Clean Art’, officials seized 54,352 paintbrushes made out of mongoose hair. According to Quartz India, 113 kilograms of raw mongoose hair was also seized before the local police arrested 43 people connected to this barbaric case of trafficking.
The illegal trade, raking in millions of dollars every month is expected to be behind the killing of 100,000 mongooses in India every year. For every kilogram of mongoose hair that is used in brushes, about 50 animals are killed. This is because only about 20 grams of good hair comes from every mongoose. We are doing our best to disrupt the supply and production network but unfortunately awareness about this wildlife crime is low and as long as there is a demand, there will be people killing mongoose for their hair.
In the last 3 years approximately 280 kg loose mongoose hair has been recovered along with 1,96,297 brushes, which tells us how animal species are used by humans for their selfish needs.
The best friends of farmers are now in danger due to illegal hunting and some people’s gruesome needs Please save them