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Small asian mongoose

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Small asian mongoose
Scientific Classification
Binomial name

Herpestes javanicus

The small Asian mongoose has been introduced to several urban locations around the globe.

The small Asian mongoose is a species of mongoose known by the scientific name Herpestes javanicus. It also known as the Javan Mongoose, Javan gold-spotted mongoose, or the common Indian mongoose. They are small mammals that are notorious for its invasive behavior across Asia and tropical Islands. Along with its ecological behavior, the introduction of the mongooses by humans have devastating impacts on indigenous life and have been a major point of concern for ecosystems in Hawaii, Jamaica, and other locations.


Body Design

The body of the Small Asian Mongoose

When you see a Small Asian mongoose you can easily confuse them with a weasel because they are close in body size and have a few of the same features. The difference between them though is that the Small Asian mongoose has brown or gray fur and a few have striped fur or finged tails. The size of the tails vary but they are all between 6-21 inches long, and are almost as long as the body itself.[2] The difference between the Small Asian mongoose and the Indian gray Mongoose are size, weight, facial features and fur. The size of a Indian gray reach to 15 and 18 inches, The tails are are almost the size and are 14 inches. The weight is more also which is over 1 pound and almost 9 pounds. Other features they have are short limbs, defined snouts and rough/long fur. The color of their fur is usually beige or gray. [3]

The size of an average small Asian mongoose is 66cm. The males are generally larger than the females. Weigh at an average of Males 650 g and females 430g. The small Asian mongoose look almost the exact same as a general mongoose, but they are smaller. Small Asian mongooses have a pointed head, a long tail, and think hair except on their lower legs. The fur makes the animal look twice as big and will help when meets with an enemy (poisonous reptiles). Other interesting features about the small Asian mongoose are that they are endothermic (warm blooded) and have bilateral symmetry. Their average basal metabolic rate is 2.248 W. [4]

One feature that really makes it stand out is that their fur can be able to point upright during situations of potential predation. [3]

Life Cycle

Mongoose foraging for food.

A Small Asian Mongoose’s troop is made up of mostly a band of females, with a hierarchy of males, allowing only a few to mate with the females. A female mongoose gives birth in the same day as all the other females in her troop. [3] Her pregnancy lasts 49 days, [4]and if a pup is born before the others, it is in danger of being killed by the other mothers while its own is out hunting. [3] A pup is born into a litter of two to five pups, weighing approximately 25.92 grams. [4] A male pup will become sexually mature at about 122 days old, [4] and remains hidden in their burrows until they are about six weeks old. When they are about a month old, they will learn to forage for food alongside their mothers. The males are taught how to hunt and defend themselves as well, [3] before departing from the group other mothers and pups. Female pups become sexually active after about 301 days, [4] and are taught the same skills alongside the males. [5]

The females remain with the other females, usually for their entire lives, while the males leave when they are about six months old. [2] However, if a troop becomes too large, the older females will chase the younger ones off. [3] This could be a reason for their invasive tendency. In captivity adult mongooses have been known to play games with each other, as well as participate in social grooming. In the wild, however, only mothers and their own offspring engage in mutual grooming. They are completely Diurnal, active during the day, and absolutely love sunning themselves. They will stretch out in the sun with as much of their bodies as the can being exposed. Then, once it is too hot, they find somewhere cool to lie down, or scratch at the warm dirt and lie down again. [5]


The small Asian mongoose is native to parts of the Middle East and Asia.

The small Asian mongoose is generally regarded as an omnivore, but most commonly eats insects. However, it possesses a wide diet range including rats, birds, eggs, reptiles, fruits, frogs, crabs, scorpions, and other small animals. [6] Although the small Asian mongoose can be found in a wide range of habitats, it tends to flourish in grasslands, shrublands, and deciduous forests containing an abundance of available water. It is native to many Asian and Middle-eastern countries stretching across Iraq, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The mongooses will typically adjust to its environment wherever it is introduced and takes an elevated seat on the food chain of the local inhabitants. [7] Mongooses also pose a threat to humans. The droppings of these creatures contain leptospirosis, a disease that can infect a water supply and pose a toxic risk to those who drink from it.[8]

Mongooses are diurnal, so they hunt and mate mostly during the day.[8] Males become sexually mature about four months after birth and will continue to be sexually active for the rest of their lives. Females breed between late February and early September. Mongooses have a high rate of reproduction, and a female mongoose can give birth to upwards of thirty-six offspring during her short life-span.[9] Pregnancy usually lasts around 49 days and produces a average litter of 2 young.[5] Mongooses make their homes in burrows in the ground and large tree bases that have been hollowed-out.[10] When provoked, these mongooses are known to boldly attack even venomous snakes. Despite its speed and agility, the small Asian mongoose is preyed upon by hawks, jackals, and Marabou stork.[2]

Invasive Behavior

The most common examples of the invasive spread of the small Asian mongoose come from islands such as Hawaii and Jamaica. The small Asian mongoose has caused at least 7 amphibian and reptile extinctions in Puerto Rico and the West Indies.[11] Usually people have introduced them in attempts to control the rat population. When sugar cane is grown on the islands, rats are attracted to the crops and cause much destruction. These mongooses were thought to be the solution to the problem.[12] Unlike Asian countries, the mongoose has no natural predators on most islands where it has been introduced. Without any effective check on the mongoose population and its keen ability to adapt to new surroundings, they were left to populate the islands and engorge on the native species.[8] Due to their frequent reproductive cycles [9]and wide diet range [6], the mongoose is able to efficiently pray on several animals year-round. Most often, the effects on the indigenous life of an ecosystem are not considered before the introduction of mongooses, a mistake that has changed the overall food chain of many tropical islands.[12] Additionally, many ships unknowingly carry mongooses to new locations across the globe, further expanding their domain.[7]

Pest Control

Islands such as Hawaii have taken proactive measures to attempt to control the destructive mongoose population. Currently, it is illegal to introduce, keep, or breed small Asian mongooses in the state without a permit. Fines for breaking this law reach upwards of $1000 for each mongoose.[12] Excessive trapping and snaring is also enacted to help control the outbreak. Despite millions of dollars spent every year to decrease the mongooses' range, little effect has taken place.[7] The mongoose is considered one of the top 100 worst invasive species. [13] In fact, some claim that at one point a bed and breakfast in Volcano Village would give a free night’s stay if a run-over mongoose was brought with the tread marks of your car matching those on the animal.[8]



  1. Herpestes javanicus WikiSpecies. Web. Last updated March 24, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Small Asian Mongoose Lauries Lil’ Tyke Childcare. Web. Published, 2009. Author Unkown
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Millbrun, Naomi. Indian Mongoose Features Pawnation. Web. Date-of-access October 13,2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Herpestes javanicus — Overview Javan Gold-spotted Mongoose Encyclopedia Of Life. Web. Last updated May 8, 2012. Unknown Author.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lutz, Jerod. Herpestes javanicus Indian mongoose Animal Diversity Web. Web. Accessed, October 9, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Corlett, Richard. [http://www.biosch.hku.hk/ecology/porcupine/por24/24-vert-7-mongoose.htm Is the Javan Mongoose native and does it matter? ] Porcupine, No 24. Web. December 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Herpestes javanicus PublishingRedList. Web. accessed October 7 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Animals.mongoose Instant Hawaii. Web. Accessed October 13 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mongooses, Mongeese, Mongoose-dem! VInow. Web. Updated January 23 2013.
  10. Veron, G.. Javan Mongoose Ecology Asia. Web. published 2007.
  11. DiFiore, Sonia Introduced Species Summary Project Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) Columbia. Web. Last-update October 23, 2001 .
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Mongoose StoppingTheSilentInvasion. Web. Accessed October 19 2013.
  13. DiFiore, Sonia. Introduced Species Summary Project Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) Columbia. Web. Last Updated, October 23, 2001
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