Mongooses are the smallest terrestrial carnivores found on earth. These animals belong to the herpestidae family and they consist of two main subfamilies; the herpestidae that consists of 23 species, and the mungotinae that consists of 11 species.
The different species of mongoose may vary quite a bit in size and overall appearance but all of these species do share the same basic diet.
Mongooses are mostly carnivore animals which means they mostly consume meat and insects but they will occasionally also consume plant matter. These small animals are incredibly fast which enables them to catch all sorts of small animals and insects including dangerous species. They also have razor-sharp teeth that allow them to bite through tough skin and shells.
Here is a quick look at some of the foods these animals love to eat.
The type of animal mongoose can catch depends on their species. They also travel in packs which enable them to catch larger prey. They do mostly focus on animals that are smaller than they are. These animals can include rats, mice, rabbits or hares, kittens, and other animals. Larger mongoose species such as the gray mongoose, water mongoose, or large spotted genets may even feed on domestic cats.
Some mongoose species are very agile climbers. They prefer to stay on the ground but will also catch trees to reach their prey. Mongoose love to eat eggs and will often climb to great heights to reach eggs or hatchlings in nests. They also stalk and catch all sorts of bird and poultry species. In captivity, mongooses are often fed on chicken or small chicks. In the wild, they will feed on any type of bird they manage to catch.
These animals with their lightning-fast reflexes are perfectly capable of catching reptiles. They eat all sorts of reptiles such as lizards, chameleons and they are even able to catch and eat snakes. Mongooses are particularly fond of various venomous snakes such as cobras and their bodies are resistant to small amounts of venom.
These animals will eat all sorts of insects and they also enjoy eating crabs. They will feed on insects such as earthworms, moths, spiders, crickets, scorpions, centipedes, beetles, and many others. In harsh conditions, they will feed on just about any type of insect but if they can, they do tend to avoid insects that secrete a strong smell such as millipedes.
Some mongoose species will supplement their diet with vegetation. They prefer meat but will occasionally eat berry fruits. They enjoy eating strawberries, wild berries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, and a great variety of other berry fruits.
They also will occasionally consume nuts and seeds. These animals do prefer oily seed types such as almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, and hickory nuts.
Mongooses are not shy about consuming carrion meats. They are quite feisty and are known to take over a carcass from other predatory species such as jackals or foxes. They will eat just about any carrion meat they can find which also makes them easy to feed in captivity.
Mongooses are quite drought tolerant. They can survive for quite a few days without water. But they do require fresh clean water to stay hydrated. Without water, even these sturdy animals can become very ill within days.
Mongooses do tend to have quite a few diet variations, especially those who are domesticated. They prefer meat but will occasionally eat fruits, seeds, and nuts. Domesticated mongooses also may have a sweet tooth and may crave small sweet foods such as cooked sweet potato or chocolate candy. These foods are however not healthy for them since they are not part of a mongoose’s natural diet.
It is important not to approach a wild mongoose. These animals can be quite aggressive if they feel threatened. Typically, they tend to flee but they can lash out and attack if you get too close to their mob. Mongooses can also carry diseases such as rabies which can make them very dangerous.
If you want to feed a wild mongoose, it is best to leave the food out on a plate or to toss it in their direction.
Domesticated mongoose species are often fed in their cages at specific times.
In the wild, mongoose love to travel as a gang. They enjoy hunting together, especially if they are targeting dangerous foods such as venomous snakes. In the wild, they will eat any insect and small animal foods they can find. They love to dig around for all sorts of insects and they frequently visit rocky areas in search of food. If they find large prey or are trying to rob a carcass from another predator, they will work together as a mob to get their food.
Baby mongooses are called pups and they are usually born as a litter of 2 – 4 pups. Mongooses are mammals and need milk to survive. Mongoose pups will start to forage for food from 1 month old. At this point, they will start to eat all the same foods as adult mongooses and their parents or pack stay closely together to raise them.
They will start to leave their burrow from 6 weeks old and are fully weaned by the time they are 10 weeks old.
These animals are opportunistic feeders which means they will eat whenever food is available to them. They are quite small and do not eat a lot of food in a single sitting but given the opportunity, they will consume food many times throughout the day.
The amount of food they eat depends on their age and species. They prefer to eat every day and will forage for food every day but they can survive for quite a few days without food.
Most mongoose species will eat kittens but only larger species will hunt and eat cats. This is however not the most common food for mongoose species.