Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata)

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose
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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose fact file

Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyEupleridae
GenusMungotictis (1)

The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose is a small carnivore with dense, grizzled, brownish-grey fur and a bushy, brush-like tail. Eight to twelve narrow, reddish-brown to dark brown stripes run along the back and sides of the body, from the shoulders to the base of the tail, giving the species its common name (2) (3) (4) (5). The underparts are a paler beige colour (2) (3), and there may be orange tinges around the legs (5). The tail is similar in colour to the upper body, but may be more grey, and flecked with lighter and darker areas (2). The muzzle is fairly pointed and the ears are rounded and quite prominent. The legs are quite delicate, and the toes, which bear longish claws, are partially webbed and have hairless soles (2) (3) (4).

Two subspecies of Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose are recognised, with Mungotictis decemlineata lineata being darker, with a paler tail and more pronounced stripes, than Mungotictis decemlineata decemlineata (2) (5). However, M. d. lineata has only been described from two specimens, and its status as a subspecies is difficult to confirm (5).

Also known as
Narrow-striped mongoose.
Synonyms
Mungotictis lineata, Mungotictis substriatus, Mungotictis vittatus.
Size
Head-body length: 25 - 35 cm (2) (3)
Tail length: 20 - 27 cm (2) (3)
Weight
600 - 800 g (2) (4)
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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose biology

Active during the day, the Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose feeds mainly on insects, especially insect larvae, which it may dig up or excavate from rotting wood. During the rainy season, the diet is more varied, and includes small mammals, reptiles, birds’ eggs, worms, snails, and other invertebrates (2) (3). To break open an egg or a snail shell, the Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose may lie on its side, grasping the object with all four feet, before throwing it until it breaks (3). Larger prey, such as small lemur species, may be hunted cooperatively (2). The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose lives both in the trees and on the ground, and may spend the night in tree holes during the summer or in burrows during the dry winter (2) (3). It is also a good swimmer (3).

The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose is a social species, usually found in family groups of six to eight individuals, including adult males, adult females, juveniles and young (1) (2) (3). The group stays in contact using a series of short, repeated contact calls. During the winter, it may break up into smaller units, which include temporary pairs, maternal family groups, all-male groups, and solitary males (2) (3). If disputes arise, the bushy tail may be bristled and held erect as a threat (2). Breeding occurs between December and April, with the female giving birth to a single offspring after a gestation of 90 to 105 days. The young Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose is weaned at just two months old, but may remain with the female for up to two years (2) (3). The lifespan of this species is up to 12 years (8).

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose range

The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose has a rather restricted distribution in western Madagascar, being endemic to the seasonal dry forests of the central and southern Menabe regions (1) (2) (6). M. d. decemlineata is thought to occur from the Tsiribihina River in the north to the Mangoky River in the south, while M. d. lineata is believed to occur further south, with the only known specimens thought to have been collected south of Toliara and from Lac Tsimanampetsotsa (1) (2) (7).

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose habitat

M. d. decemlineata inhabits dry deciduous forest (1) (2) (7), while M. d. lineata is believed to occur in Didieraeceae and Euphorbiaceae thickets (2) (7), part of the Madagascan spiny forests of the south.

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose threats

The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose is under threat from habitat destruction and fragmentation, as forests are logged and cleared for agriculture (1) (3) (6) (7). Although not thought to suffer from high levels of direct human persecution (3) (7), there have been reports of hunting of the species for food in some areas (6). Predation by domestic and feral dogs is also a problem, particularly where logging has opened up the forest and brought increased levels of human disturbance (1) (6).

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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose conservation

The Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose occurs in a few protected areas, including the Central Menabe provisional protected area, Kirindy Mitea National Park, Andranomena Special Reserve, and the privately-owned Analabe Reserve (1) (7). However, Andranomena Special Reserve consists entirely of degraded forest, and Kirindy Mitea is reported to be significantly affected by hunting (6). Suggested conservation measures to help protect the species include cooperative efforts with local communities to decrease the rate of forest destruction, as well as the establishment of further reserves. In particular, the status and distribution of M. d. lineata, and its relationship to M. d. decemlineata, needs further investigation (6) (7).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

Find out more about conservation in Madagascar:

Further information on the conservation of small carnivore species:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Carnivore
An organism that feeds on flesh. The term can also be used to refer to a mammal in the order Carnivora.
Deciduous forest
Forest consisting mainly of deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone.
Larvae
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Garbutt, N. (1999) Mammals of Madagascar. Pica Press, Sussex.
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  4. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Hawkins, A.F.A., Hawkins, C.E. and Jenkins, P.D. (2000) Mungotictis decemlineata lineata (Carnivora: Herpestidae), a mysterious Malagasy mongoose. Journal of Natural History, 34: 305 - 310.
  6. Woolaver, L., Nichols, R., Rakotombololona, W.F., Volahy, A.T. and Durbin, J. (2006) Population status, distribution and conservation needs of the narrow-striped mongoose Mungotictis decemlineata of Madagascar. Oryx, 40: 67 - 75.
  7. Schreiber, A., Wirth, R., Riffel, M. and Van Rompaey, H. (1989) Weasels, Civets, Mongooses, and their Relatives: An Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids. IUCN/SSC Mustelid and Viverrid Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland.
  8. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
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Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose  
Malagasy narrow-striped mongoose

© Nick Garbutt / naturepl.com

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