The mongoose looks like a weasel or ferret but is not related to these species of the mustelid family. Nor are mongooses part of the mustelid family. The meerkat is part of the mongoose family. The mongoose family is Herpestidae. Herpestidae are divided into two subclasses Herpestinae and Galidiinae.
The mongooses from Madagascar are from the subfamily Galidiinae. The rest of the mongoose genus are of the subclass Herpestinae and are from Southern Europe to Asia and many places in-between.
All the above mentioned mammals are from the order Carnivora meaning they eat meat. The mongoose diet includes snakes, eggs, insects, rodents, crustaceans, and worms. They have extremely high metabolisms much like the ferret and require a high protein diet. They cannot live on dog food or cat food. Feed cooked chicken necks, other cooked meats, worms, insects, eggs; it is important to stay as close to an animal's natural diet as possible. They do occasionally eat some fruit and seeds. It is interesting that many carnivores eat food other than meat, occasionally. Could it be medicinal?
They are mainly known for their ability to kill snakes. This ability became widely known through the short story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from the Jungle Book written by British Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling in 1894. The story was also made into a short television cartoon show for children and made into a movie. The gray mongoose was the subject behind the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi story.
They are fast, have a thick coat and have receptors chemical compound acetylcholine shaped like a snakes making it impossible for the snake's Neurotoxins to attach. Along with their powerful jaws and sharp teeth they can kill a snake very quickly. They are not totally immune to a snake's toxin, usually a cobra is portrayed in accounts about snakes and mongooses, but they do have an high tolerance, mongoose vs cobra or cobra vs mongoose the mongoose will win. They do not fare as well against snakes considered as vipers; one example is the rattlesnake. The ability of killing many different types of snakes depends mainly on their quickness, agility and thick coats.
All species of mongooses are unable to retract their claws like a cat. Their claws are sharp. Some species of mongoose are able to fold their ears to keep dirt out of their ears while digging.
The mongoose has been bred in captivity and you can find mongoose for sale and mongoose breeders in the United States (US). Though it is probably illegal to own one. If not completely illegal in all states it is illegal to import. Some countries do allow mongooses as pets. I know a few people in the United States that do have mongooses. It is fairly common to have a mongoose as a pet in some other countries. They may be illegal to own if you take them out of the wild as it is most often illegal to take animals from the wild to have as pets. You may be able to own a mongoose in your country if they are bought from a breeder that breeds mongooses or what is known as captive bred.
The mongoose is classified as an exotic pest species and cannot be imported into the United States. Importation is limited to research purposes only.
Mongooses had been imported into many places for rodent and snake control, causing extreme adverse affects on the local wildlife populations. One example is the Indian mongoose brought into Hawaii for rodent control, which caused the extinction of some species of wildlife. The lost and extinction of wildlife causes a domino effect which in turn ruins anything from crops causing the ecosystem to come tumbling down, at least drastically changed from what it was. As it turned out, using mongooses to rid the islands of rats was a failure, rats are nocturnal (active at night) and mongooses diurnal (active during the day).
They are classified as a wild animal, injurious animals, or an invasive animal, so research the laws carefully before buying a mongoose. You may need a special license to legally own one.
It is difficult to find veterinarians that deal with mongooses. Be sure to find a veterinarian before you acquire a mongoose.
Mongooses can make good pets and can be very loveable. They are portrayed as being ferocious but in fact, if domesticated or more accurately socialized, can learn to play with toys, and use a litter box. They are in fact very intelligent animals.
Having other pets could be very risky especially since a mongoose kills other animals to eat, they are a predator. Having been socialize and living in a household will not control the desire to kill for food. No other animal would be safe including a cat. It may be a different story if they had been raised domestically over thousands of years, one example the ferret, but that is not the case. It would be a real fiasco if you had another predator type species of animal as a pet. No child should be left with a mongoose or any other pet unsupervised.
Certain species of mongooses don't make very good pets; and are in fact, very difficult to domesticate or socialize. Be sure to do your research. There are 36 to 40 different varieties of mongoose.
They are a mammal and most mammals can contract rabies. Check with a veterinarian familiar with mongooses to find out what vaccinations are necessary for a mongoose. Many mongoose owners suggest the mongoose needs many of the same vaccinations as cats.
Most Mongooses have anal scent glands like a dog or a skunk. It is used to mark their territory and also broadcasts readiness to breed.
They are inclined to be loners not forming strong bonded communities like the meerkats. The female and kits are as close to a bonded group as they are going to get.
Please do considerable research before considering a mongoose as a pet. The laws concerning mongooses are quite severe. After learning of the devastation the mongoose caused in Hawaii I can, at least understand to some degree why some places are reluctant to allow the importation of predator species of animals.
After the television show about the meerkat on Animal Planet there was a surge of people wanting meerkats as pets and a heave to get rid of the meerkat as a pet because Animal Planet told them they didn't make good pets. (Go figure). They had to be told their pet wasn't good? Learn all you can about a pet. Don't get a pet because it is cute, it is on television, or your friend has one. If you can't gain experience working with a real animal of your choice before buying one don't get one.
If you love your pet please don't let shows like Animal Planet tell you it isn't a good pet. You be the judge! You decided to acquire that pet, love it and care for it.
Fauna Classifieds has a huge number of animals in many countries. If there is something special you are looking for take a look through the classifieds. They are quite interesting to read. Buyer beware, this is not a company, pet store, breeder, but individual people selling animals. Fauna Classifieds
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Jungle Book - Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
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