Striped Mongoose: War of the Communes
Mongoose never leave mongoose
Striped mongooses are very social animals. They live in large and cohesive groups of 7 to 40 specimens. These specimens stand for each other. There is no clear hierarchy in the group, only conditional dominance by age. Conflicts are minimal. They rarely fight for females, and over food – even rarer. They sleep together, warming each other. Constantly communicate with special signals. Discourage relatives from predators. Births by females usually occur synchronously, and therefore the whole group takes care of the cubs, not separating "their" and "neighbors". They can feed on the milk of any female. Someone is constantly with newborns. "Nannies" regularly change each other to eat.
When the cubs begin to leave the shelter, the group “allocates” a mentor for them. They spend about three months together. An experienced mongoose protects the ward, teaches to look for food and plays with him. Such a connection reports the traditions of generations. If a teacher broke the eggs by throwing them on stones, the grown-up student will do the same. The system works. Mongoose can always count on the help of the group.
If it is not someone else's mongoose
Striped mongooses from different groups are implacable enemies. Each flock desperately defends its territory and food supply. When one group notices another, bloodshed is coming.
A smaller group may retreat; a larger group may pursue it for some time. If the forces are equal, the fight begins. Usually the opponents have the "duels", biting and scratching each other. Often - to death.
Carnages can last for hours. A special target is the cubs, the future of the group. If it is possible to kill them – they will certainly be destroyed. Moreover, the males of one group can mate with females of another. In the course of the battle – to eliminate their own offspring, living with "not ours" mongooses.
In order to "stay in the group", it is important for a mongoose to wear its smell. Relatives mark each other several times a day. The fragrance lasts about 7-9 hours. If it disappears, the mongoose will become a "stranger". With all the ensuing consequences.
In zoos, animals are regularly shown to veterinarians. It takes a maximum of 24 hours, less if possible. The smell disappears. In order to safely return the mongoose to the group, it should be presented to each of the relatives again – and individually. It is very important to consider the ranking in the flock – and to start "repeated acquaintances" with the least status mongooses, gradually moving up the "career ladder".
In 2016, we had to take three newborn cubs for artificial feeding. Three months later, when they grew up, came the question of returning the human-raised cubs to the group. But it was almost impossible, because they had never been in it. Mongooses do not stand on ceremony with "strange" offspring.
We had to improvise. When we introduced the cubs to other mongooses, we sprinkled both participants of the meeting with curry powder. It has a strong and not pungent smell. It drowns out the smell of the group, equalizing the animals.
To increase the chances of success, we added another measure - invented by us. Before the “acquaintance,” we kept each representative of the group isolated for several hours. The mongooses are very sad alone - and enjoy any mongoose after that.
The experiment succeeded. The group took three teens-cubs. Now they sleep, play, eat together - and explore the countryside. What if the fiends of hell - enemy striped mongoose - loom on the horizon?
Do you want to join the pack? Become the guardian of one - or even several mongooses! You will get a free visit to the zoo, their photos as a gift, as well as a special place on our website.
You can find out more about the guardianship program on the website (http://moscowzoo.ru/my-zoo/become-a-guardian/, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), as well as by phone 8- 499-766-74-12.
Photo: Olga Dmitrieva, Nadezhda May, Pavel Labonsky, Mikhail Semenov