What Do Mongooses Eat? Everything You Need to Know About Their Diet

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: February 10, 2022
Image Credit steve bushman/Shutterstock.com
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Mongooses are generally terrestrial mammals that are predominantly found in Africa. Some have been discovered to be semi-aquatic, while others inhabit treetops. Some species are also found in the Iberian Peninsula and southern Asia. 

Mongooses have short legs that carry their long bodies. However, the focus here is to look at what mongooses eat, how they hunt, and more!

What Do Mongooses Eat?

What Do Mongoose Eat
Mongooses eat rodents, frogs, birds, and insects.

/Shutterstock.com

Mongooses eat rodents, frogs, birds, insects, and plants for most of their diet. Mongooses are predominantly carnivores, but some species have been seen eating fruits, seeds, and nuts. They have tapered snouts with short legs to carry their long bodies.

The triangular snouts of mongooses house a mouth with rows of sharp teeth. They will use their sharp teeth to eat anything that comes their way as food. Hence, they are termed “opportunistic and nondiscriminatory” feeders.

A study in the Journal of Mammalogy examining mongooses in Hawaii found that their diet comprises 39.6% mammals, 27% insects, 4.1% birds, and 29.3% plants. In this study, it was concluded that insects are essential to a mongoose’s diet. Cockroaches have been discovered to contribute over 13.9% of their diets. Mongooses also eat eggs. To get into eggs, they throw them against hard surfaces.

Here is a list of the most common foods that mongooses will eat:

Mongooses are dynamic in their dieting when in captivity. The same study also shows that they eat foods not recorded in their natural habitat. Mongoosea eats coconut meat, earthworms, bread, centipedes, and bananas when in captivity.

Mongooses will also augment their diet with berries and roots.

What do Babies of Mongoose Eat?

Baby mongooses are called pups because they are born in litters of two to four. Mongooses are mammals, so their babies need milk to thrive.

From as little as a month old, mongoose pups begin foraging for food. It implies that at this point, they will start to eat the same kinds of foods that their adults are eating. Hence, their pack or parents will begin to raise them as they now get closer together.

When they are six weeks old, they begin to leave their burrows. And once they are ten weeks old, they would have been fully weaned.

How Do Mongooses Hunt?

Mongoose (Helogale Parvula) - and baby
Mongooses hunt for food as a pack

Cassidy Te/Shutterstock.com

Mongooses in the wild enjoy traveling as a pack. As a pack, they hunt together, especially when hunting venomous snakes.  They will also eat whatever insects or small mammals they regard as food in the wild. Mongooses enjoy digging for insects of all kinds and frequently visit rocky regions to find food. 

Anytime mongooses come upon a large prey or are attempting to steal carcasses from another animal, they will band together as a mob to get what they need.

How Much Do Mongooses Eat?

It has already been stated that mongooses are opportunistic and nondiscriminatory feeders, which implies that they will eat whatever food is available to them at any given time. 

Due to their small stature, they do not eat a large amount of food at once. However, when availed of the opportunity, they will eat several times during the day.

Mongooses eat different amounts of food based on their species and age. Just like most animals, they prefer eating every day as they forage for food daily, but they can go for several days without food.

Mongoose standing alert
Mongooses eat several times during the day

ChrisHodgesUK / Creative Commons

How to Feed a Mongoose

A mongoose can be wild, and it’s crucial not to get too close to one. If they perceive a threat, they can be highly aggressive. Usually, they run away from humans, but if you come too close to their gang, they may attack.

A domesticated mongoose is frequently fed at precise times in their cages. However, it’s crucial to note that mongooses can be carriers of diseases like rabies, making them extremely deadly. 

Hence, if you wish to feed them, it’s preferable to leave food out on a dish or toss it in their direction.

Are Mongooses Dangerous to Humans?

Mongooses are not violent towards humans, despite their impressive reputation for attacking dangerous snakes.

However, according to a case report from BMJ Journals, mongooses may bite at times. An infection named Streptococcal sepsis can result from such injuries.

Debridement of the wound and the delivery of broad-spectrum antibiotics as soon as possible can save lives.

What Do Mongooses Kill?

Mongoose in front of rock

Pkuczynski / Creative Commons

Mongooses are known for their capacity to kill snakes, including various deadly ones, as previously stated. Mongooses do this by crushing the snake’s skull after biting down on its head. This is how they kill the majority of their prey. They are great hunters because they can attack rapidly and kill prey nearly instantly with their formidable jaws and sharp teeth.

It’s vital to note that they rarely kill unless it is for the sake of hunting. Mongooses are spirited and would kill the next animal they believe will provide them with a meal.

Do Mongooses Eat Cats?

Mongooses are ferocious tiny creatures, as seen by their wide variety of food alternatives and their willingness to chase dangerous snakes. Some of their species can grow to be as large as cats, and they are more than capable of combating, killing, and even eating them.

Cats, on the other hand, aren’t high on the list of favorite foods for mongooses. Mongooses don’t eat cats in general. They both seem to cohabit happily and rarely engage in a struggle to the death. 

However, mongooses may eat isolated kittens after killing them. Matured cats present a far more complex problem, although cats prefer to avoid mongooses for unknown reasons.

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