Giant-striped mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri)

Also known as: Grandidier’s mongoose
GenusGalidictis (1)
SizeHead-body length: 38 - 40.5 cm (2)
Tail length: 30 - 31.5 cm (2)
Weight1 - 1.5 kg (2)

The giant-striped mongoose is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

A somewhat elusive carnivore, the giant-striped mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) has been observed for many centuries but was only formally identified in 1986 (3). It is the largest of all the mongoose species native to Madagascar (3) (4).

The giant-striped mongoose is known for its striking brown and cream coat and the distinctive striping pattern on its back, which consists of eight stripes running from the neck right down to the base of the tail. The spacing between each stripe is significantly larger than the width of the stripes themselves. The tail has long white to beige hairs (3). Apart from a scent pouch found on the female giant-striped mongoose, there have been no physical differences observed between the two genders (4).

This species is sometimes referred to as Grandidier’s mongoose, named after a French scientist who visited Madagascar in the 1800s (3). 

The giant-striped mongoose is endemic to Madagascar. It occurs only in the southwest of the country, where it has an estimated range of just 442 square kilometres (1). A large percentage of the population is found in the Parc National de Tsimanampetsotsa, a protected area found on the coast of Madagascar (5).

The giant-striped mongoose is most frequently found in an incredibly dry tropical forest environment. During the day this species can be found in a series of cave networks in limestone uplands (5).

Conditions in the region wildly fluctuate on a day to day basis, with temperatures ranging from 17 to 34 degrees Celsius (5) (6). Rainfall is barely seen, but occurs most often during December and February (6).

The giant-striped mongoose primarily feeds on invertebrates such as grasshoppers and scorpions, although it has been known to consume small birds, reptiles and occasionally mammals. Although invertebrates will be eaten throughout the year, the diet may vary between the wet season and the dry season, with vertebrates more likely to be eaten in the wet season (6).

A nocturnal species, the giant-striped mongoose will hunt and forage at night, either alone or in pairs (7) (5). During the day, this species usually takes refuge in cavernous holes in limestone formations to avoid the intense sunlight. The giant-striped mongoose does not always return to the same hole it occupied the previous day (7).

Little is known about the reproductive cycle of this species. It is likely to breed throughout the year, with the female producing one offspring annually (8) (7). The adult giant-striped mongoose is thought to breed in a monogamous pair, with both adults taking care of the young (7).

An individual giant-striped mongoose may have a home range of approximately one square kilometre (7). This species defecates at latrine sites, which are usually located on exposed rocks. It is thought these could be territorial markers (2). Not much else is known about the methods of communication used by giant-striped mongooses. Other mongooses communicate, using smell, body language and vocal signals, so it is likely the giant-striped mongoose communicates in a similar manner (7).

There are no known natural predators of the giant-striped mongoose. It is thought that the only potential predator is the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), a cat-like carnivore also native to Madagascar (7).

One of the main problems facing the endangered giant-striped mongoose is its extremely limited range, which is threatened by clearance for maize cultivation and livestock grazing (1).

Human expansion and interference is also problematic for the giant-striped mongoose. The national park that this species inhabits is now open to tourists, and it is not unusual for the mongoose to visit tourist campsites (5). This could make the giant-striped mongoose vulnerable to attack from humans as they may sometimes be considered as pests in these areas (7) (5). Human presence also leaves the giant-striped mongoose exposed to predation by non-native species such as dogs (1).

The giant-striped mongoose is found in the protected area of the Parc National de Tsimanampetsotsa, but due to human expansion its range is decreasing. There are no specific conservation measures in place for the giant-striped mongoose, and further studies of this species are needed to see what strategies would be effective in aiding conservation efforts (1).

More information on the giant-striped mongoose: 

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  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. Garbutt, N. (2008) Mammals of Madagascar, a Complete Guide. A&C Black, London.
  3. Wozencraft, W.C. (1986) A new species of striped mongoose from Madagascar. Journal of Mammology, 67(3): 561-571.
  4. Nowak, R. (1995) Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. The John Hopkins University Press, London.
  5. Mahazotahy, S., Goodman, S.M., and Andriamanalina, A. (2006) Notes on the distribution and habitat preferences of Galidictis grandidieri Wozencraft, 1986 (Carnivora: Eupleridae), a poorly known endemic species of southwestern Madagascar. Mammalia, 70(3): 328-330.
  6. Andriatsimietry, R., Goodman, S.M., Razafimahatratra, E., Jeglinski, J.W.E., Marquard, M., and Ganzhorn, J.U. (2009) Seasonal variation in the diet of Galidictis grandidieri Wozencraft, 1986 (Carnivora: Eupleridae) in a sub-arid zone of extreme south-western Madagascar. Journal of Zoology, 279(4): 410-415.
  7. Wozencraft, W.C. (1990) Alive and well in Tsimanampetsotsa. Natural History, 12(90): 28-30.
  8. Goodman, S.M. (2003) Galidictis, Broad-striped Mongoose, Vontsira Fotsy. In: Goodman, S.M., and Benstead, J.P. (Eds.) The Natural History of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.