Weird Animals – the Banded Mongoose and the Warthog
Weird Animals – the Banded Mongoose and the Warthog
Did you ever hear the joke about the private zoo owner who wanted to order more than one mongoose from an animal dealer? He wrote this letter:
"Dear Sir, Please send me two mongooses.” That didn't sound right so he tried again.
"Dear Sir, Please send me two mongeese." That still didn't sound right, so he wrote:
"Dear Sir, Please send me one mongoose. And while you’re at it, please send me another.”
So … what do you call more than one mongoose? Take a guess. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the plural form of mongoose is . . . mongooses. Mongeese is also acceptable but rarely used.
Recently I wrote about the symbiosis between the Malaysian tree shrew, its poo, and the Pitcher Plant. Now I want to acquaint you with the banded mongoose which has an unusual symbiotic relationship with the fierce-looking warthog. Using my otherworldly, supernatural powers that enable me to communicate with animals, here is what I learned firsthand from a talkative African banded mongoose.
The Jungle Book
Interview with Banded Mongoose
me – Thank you, Mr. Mongoose, for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Mongoose – Call me Manny. I don’t often get any interviews. In fact, to be honest, I never get any interviews.
me – Is Manny your given name?
Manny – My scientific name is Mungos mungo. Is that a mouthful or what? But all my friends call me Manny.
me – You are very distinctive looking with those dark brown to black bands around your body.
Manny – Thank you for the compliment. There are 36 other species of mongooses, you know. Maybe you have heard of our famous relatives, those publicity hounds . . . the meerkats?
me – Your adorable kin are probably more well-known due to the popularity of the BBC ‘Meerkat Manor’ television specials.
Manny – They may be adorable but the famous writer, Rudyard Kipling, didn’t write a story about them.
me – Are you referring to ‘The Jungle Book’ written in 1894?
Manny – What else? A short story, ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,’ in that beloved book relates the adventures of a valiant mongoose – like me – who protects its adopted British family living in India from two sinister cobras. Would I lie to you?
me – Only time will tell. So tell me a little more about yourself.
Habitat of Banded Mongoose
Indian Mongoose vs. Cobra
Manny – As you can see, we mongooses are about the size of small cats, 12 to 16 inches long (with an 8-inch tail), and weigh up to 5 pounds.
We live in the central and eastern parts of Africa from Gambia to Ethiopia as well as South Africa, and prefer tropical grassland, open forests, and rocky country. Do you know our favorite type of shelter?
me –Rental apartments?!
Manny – You are closer to the truth than you know. Our favorite dens are abandoned termite mounds – with no rental fee.
Since we live in colonies with an average of 7 to 20 mongooses, our dens are communal and usually contain a central sleeping chamber with up to 9 different entrances.
me – What would a typical day be like for you?
Manny – We search for food in groups during the morning, rest in the shade, and then forage again in the afternoon. Each member searches for food alone but we all return to our den before sunset.
me – I noticed you have long, strong claws.
Manny – The better to dig up our prey, my dear, from holes in the ground and in trees.
me – Which is … ?
Manny – Our main diet consists of insects, beetles and millipedes (similar to centipedes) as well as small rodents, little snakes, frogs, lizards, and the occasional unaware bird on the ground – and its eggs.
me – Do you have a favorite food?
Manny – Lobster! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. Yes! We spend much of our time frequenting areas where large animals deposit their dung.
Before you ask, No, we do not eat dung. We eat the tasty, crispy dung beetles that eat the dung.
Another favorite is bird and reptile eggs. Usually we bite into the eggshell using our razor sharp teeth. But we also have an unusual special technique.
We throw the egg using our front legs between our back legs on to the hard ground behind us. We call that the ‘soccer’ maneuver. (Laughs)
Manny – Speaking of maneuvers, when mongooses mate we make a high-pitched noise which is known as giggling. We often ‘giggle’ during courtship, too. (Looks proud)
After a two-month gestation, a female banded mongoose gives birth to a litter which ranges from two to six pups. These newborns are guarded in the den by several mongoose baby-sitters for the first month of their life while the others forage for food.
Have you heard of ‘begging’?
me – You mean like panhandling.
Manny – Exactly! After four weeks, the pups emerge from the den and approach different adults and follow them closely to beg for food.
me – Are you serious?
Manny – No, I’m Manny. Sorry. Each pup finds an adult escort that it will follow begging constantly for food with a high-pitched, bird-like chirp. Within a few days, each pup forms a stable association with a single escort who will feed and protect it for 9 to 13 weeks. After three months or so, pups can forage for food on their own.
me – Unbelievable!
Manny – Wait, I haven’t told you the really unbelievable facts yet – the symbiosis between the banded mongoose and the warthog.
The Mongoose and the Warthog
Manny – What do you know about the African warthog?
me – I know they can weigh 120 to 250 pounds, belong to the same family as domestic pigs, and are far from aesthetically pleasing to look at.
Manny – Ferociously ugly would not be a misstatement.
me – They have four sharp tusks, and little hair on their mostly bald heads which are covered with large, ugly ‘warts.’
Manny – Those warts are protective bumps. Did you know that warthogs also provide food for mongooses.
me – No way. Who would want to eat one? (Chuckling) What food are you referring to?
Manny – In Kenya and Uganda, mongooses have been filmed climbing aboard warthogs to feed on the numerous ticks and parasites they find upon their hides.
me – Now, that’s what I call symbiosis. The warthogs get free dry-cleaning and the mongooses get free dining.
Thank you for your time, Manny. Bon appetit!
Banded Mongooses Cleaning (Dining On) Ugly Warthog
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Learn to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview confidently, and negotiate salary.