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Dwarf Mongoose

Helogale parvula

Did you know?

  • Dwarf mongooses are part of the Herpestidae family, alongside meerkats.
  • They live in a diverse range of habitats in Africa.
  • They are the smallest carnivore in Africa and weigh about one pound.
  • A female dwarf mongoose has one to six pups in a litter.
  • They are matrilineal, which means females are dominant.

Social Structure

These social mammals live in large family groups of 12 to 15 animals. The pack normally includes only one breeding pair, but other adults also help raise the young. When the members of a pack are apart, they keep in constant contact with a series of vocalizations. This species is matrilineal, so the highest-ranking individual is usually the older female. Juveniles do not leave once they grow up. Instead, the pack only splits once the matriarch dies.

Symbiotic Relationships

Some dwarf mongoose communities have symbiotic relationships with neighboring hornbills. Mongooses are alerted when hornbills give warning calls about approaching predators. The hornbills, in turn, benefit from the mongooses' activity, since their movements through the grass stir up insects that hornbills eat.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild

Least Concerned

The Dwarf Mongoose is widespread and abundant.


Sub-Saharan Africa


Woodlands, savannas, brushlands, mountain scrublands

We care about dwarf mongooses

The Saint Louis Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program for dwarf mongooses, , a cooperative breeding program that helps ensure a healthy population of animals, by supporting this species in the Primate House at the Zoo.

Learn more about our conservation efforts.

Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in River's Edge


River's Edge

Take a journey along a mythical waterway through four continents to discover how wildlife, plants and people interact. River's Edge is the Saint Louis Zoo's first immersion exhibit—a lushly planted naturalistic environment showcasing multiple species from around the world.

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