In the savannah’s of Africa, you’ll find packs of the banded mongoose, named for their stripes. These nomadic creatures, roam the grasslands for insects, birds, rodents, lizards, and eggs. You could say they are a bunch of freeloaders – they scout out old abandoned dens or mounds, live there for a few weeks, and then move on. According to zookeeper Nancee Hutchinson:
When they’re moving across an open grass area in the wild, they all move in one giant pack –one big huddle. That way, to a predator, they appear as a larger animal and they’re least likely to be attacked.
The banded mongoose are actually part of the same family as meerkats and they’re a very social breed of animal. They like to cuddle up with each other and nap together. But, when it’s feeding time, look out!
Like all of the other animals at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, the mongoose are well-taken care of. And sometimes that means removing them from the others for a bit. The problem is that they identify each other by scent – and they may attack and kill those that smell different. Zookeeper Nancee Hutchinson came up with a solution:
If one is separated for an extended period of time, we will spray Vicks Vapo-Rub around the enclosure inside and also on the mongoose so eventually everything smells the same and neutral and that way it will kind of mask any other odors so everybody smells the same and will integrate back into the group much better.
Even though the mongoose will fight with one another, like a family, there is love at the core of the pack. One thing that’s really unique about the banded mongoose is that all the females will sync their cycles and they’ll give birth at the exact same time. Then they will all communally care for the young in the colony. The moms can get a break while the others take care of and nurse the young.
You can catch these feisty mongoose in the African Journey this summer.