|Tswana:||Ramoswe / Motodi|
Identification. The Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) is also known as the Red Meerkat. It grows to be about 65 to 85 cm in length. It weighs between .450 and .900 kg. It has a triangular shaped face with a pointed snout. The Southern Yellow Mongoose is larger with longer fur which is coloured yellow or reddish. It also has a longer tail with a characteristic white tip. Northern subspecies tend towards smaller size and grey colouration. The tip of the tail varies between light – and dark grey. They have shorter fur more appropriate to the hotter climate. The Yellow Mongoose has 5 digits on its forefeet and 4 on its hindfeet. The underside of the forefeet is bare and have longer claws than on the hindfeet. The hindfeet is fully covered with fur. There is no noticeable difference in appearance between males and females.
Habitat. Yellow Mongooses are predominantly a species of open grassland, scrub and arid savannas in the drier, semi-arid, western parts of southern Africa. Due to their use of burrows, rocky and hard soils are avoided.
Diet. The Yellow Mongoose feeds upon insects including, ants, termites, beetles and locusts. Their diet also consists of birds, frogs, lizards, small rodents and eggs.
Call. When the Yellow Mongoose feels threatened it will growl. They can also, bark, scream and purr although they are mainly quiet and usually communicate through tail movements.
Breeding. The mating season of the Yellow Mongoose is between July and September. It gives birth underground between October and December in a clean chamber of the burrow system. It does not use any bedding material. The gestation period varies between 42 and 57 days. Usually, two offspring are produced per pregnancy, and they are weaned at 10 weeks, reaching adult size after 10 months. It is not known if the male participates in the feeding and caring of the young.
South African Distribution. The Yellow Mongoose is found throughout most of South Africa. It does not occur in the high-rainfall southern coastal areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (approximately the coastal area from Mthatha to Durban). Neither does it occur in Mpumalanga and the Northern Province’s lowveld area.
Port Elizabeth Area. The only area where I have seen the Yellow Mongoose in Port Elizabeth is in the Baakens Valley, between Dodd’s Farm and Thomas Road.
Conservation Status – LC (Least Concern)1 Listed as Least Concern as the species is relatively widespread and common (sometimes occurring at high densities), there are currently no major threats, and it is present in several protected areas.