|Scientific classification Herpestes|
The Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), also known as ichneumon, is a mongoose species native to the Iberian Peninsula, coastal regions along the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Turkey, tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands in Africa.
The Egyptian mongoose's long, coarse fur is grey to reddish brown and ticked with brown and yellow flecks.
Its snout is pointed, its ears are small.
Its slender body is 48–60 cm (1 ft 7 in–2 ft 0 in) long with a 33–54 cm (1 ft 1 in–1 ft 9 in) long black tipped tail.
Its hind feet and a small area around the eyes are furless.
It has 35–40 teeth, with highly developed carnassials, used for shearing meat.
It weighs 1.7–4 kg (3.7–8.8 lb).
Sexually dimorphic Egyptian mongooses were observed in Portugal, where some females are smaller than males.
Distribution and habitat
It does not occur in deserts.
In Egypt, one individual was observed in Faiyum Oasis in 1993.
It was also recorded in the Dinder–Alatash protected area complex during surveys between 2015 and 2018.
Surveyors found dead individuals on bushmeat markets in villages located in the vicinity of the park.
In the 1990s, it was considered a common species in Tanzania's Mkomazi National Park.
Occurrence in Iberian Peninsula
Several hypotheses were proposed to explain the occurrence of the Egyptian mongoose in the Iberian Peninsula:
- TraditionalIy, it was thought to have been introduced following the Muslim invasion in the 8th century.
- Bones of Egyptian mongoose excavated in Spain and Portugal were radiocarbon dated to the first century. The scientists therefore suggested an introduction during the Roman Hispania era and use for eliminating rats and mice in domestic areas.
- Other authors proposed a natural colonisation of the Iberian Peninsula during the Pleistocene across a land bridge when sea levels were low between glacial and interglacial periods. This population would have remained isolated from populations in Africa after the last Ice Age.
Behaviour and ecology
The Egyptian mongoose is diurnal.
In Doñana National Park, single Egyptian mongooses, pairs and groups of up to five individuals were observed.
Adult males showed territorial behaviour, and shared their home ranges with one or several females.
The home ranges of adult females overlapped to some degree, except in core areas where they raised their offspring.
It also feeds on fruit and eggs.
To crack eggs open, it throws them between its legs against a rock or wall.
These samples contained remains of European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), sand lizards (Psammodromus), Iberian spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes), greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula), three-toed skink (Chalcides chalcides), dabbling ducks (Anas), western cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), wild boar (Sus scrofa) meat, Algerian mouse (Mus spretus) and rat species (Rattus).
Research in southeastern Nigeria revealed that it also feeds on giant pouched rats (Cricetomys), Temminck's mouse (Mus musculoides), Tullberg's soft-furred mouse (Praomys tulbergi), Nigerian shrew (Crocidura nigeriae), Hallowell's toad (Amietophrynus maculatus), African brown water snake (Afronatrix anoscopus), and Mabuya skinks.
It attacks and feeds on venomous snakes, and is resistant to the venom of Palestine viper (Daboia palaestinae), black desert cobra (Walterinnesia aegyptia) and black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis).
In Spain, it has been recorded less frequently in areas where the Iberian lynx was reintroduced.
Captive males and females reach sexual maturity at the age of two years.
In Doñana National Park, courtship and mating happens in spring between February and June.
Two to three pups are born between mid April and mid August after a gestation of 11 weeks.
They are hairless at first, and open their eyes after about a week.
Females take care of them for up to one year, occasionally also longer.
They start foraging on their own at the age of four months, but compete for food brought back to them after that age.
In the wild, Egyptian mongooses probably reach 12 years of age.
A captive Egyptian mongoose was over 20 years old.
Its generation length is 7.5 years.
H. i. ichneumon (Linnaeus, 1758) is the nominate subspecies.
The following zoological specimen were described between the late 18th century and the early 1930s as subspecies:
- Viverra cafra (Gmelin, 1788) − based on a description of a specimen from the Cape of Good Hope.
- Herpestes ichneumon numidicus F. G. Cuvier, 1834 − two individuals from Algiers in Algeria kept in the menagerie of the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, France
- Herpestes ichneumon widdringtonii Gray, 1842 − a specimen from Sierra Morena in Spain
- Herpestes angolensis (Bocage, 1890) − a male specimen from Quissange in Angola
- Mungos ichneumon parvidens (Lönnberg, 1908) − three specimens collected near the lower Congo River in Congo Free State
- Mungos ichneumon funestus (Osgood, 1910) − a specimen from Naivasha in British East Africa
- Mungos ichneumon centralis (Lönnberg, 1917) − two specimens from Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Herpestes ichneumon sangronizi Cabrera, 1924 − a specimen from Mogador in Morocco
- Herpestes caffer sabiensis (Roberts, 1926) − a specimen from Sabi Sand Game Reserve in Southern Africa
- Herpestes cafer mababiensis (Roberts, 1932) − a specimen from Mababe in northern Bechuanaland
Most of the traps found were set up by Thai guest workers.
In Israel, wildlife is protected by law, and hunting allowed only with a permit.
The long lost poem was published in the November 20, 1902, issue of "The Independent" Magazine.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian mongoose.