Indian Grey Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi)

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Herpestidae
Size:    Length: 9 to 26 inches (23 to 65 cm)
Weight: 3 pounds (1.4 kg)
Diet: Rats, insects, lizards, eggs and snakes
Distribution: Asia
Young:  2 to 4, up to 3 times a year
Animal Predators:  None (cobras kill young mongooses)
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: 7 to 12 years in the wild and 20 or more years in captivity



·       The Indian grey mongoose was made famous as “Rikki-tikki-tavi” in Kipling’s Jungle Book.

·       Indian grey mongooses are sometimes kept as house pets to ward off rats and snakes.

·       It is illegal to import a mongoose into Canada or the U.S. because of its predation on local wildlife.

·       The Indian grey mongoose is one of the few predators of the deadly cobra.

·       The Indian grey mongoose is also called Common mongooseand Edwards mongoose. 

·       Mongooses are related to civets, genets and meerkats. 



Indian grey mongooses resemble weasels, with grey-brown fur; a long, slender body; a pointed face and a long, bushy tail. Their fur is dense, providing protection from cobras fangs. Indian grey mongooses have amazing stamina, and are able to overpower cobras.



Indian grey mongooses are found in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal as well as Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. They are also found on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. They have been introduced to Italy, the Malay Peninsula, Mauritius and the Ryukyu Islands. Indian grey mongooses can usually be found in wooded areas.


Feeding Habits

Indian grey mongooses tend to prey on small mammals such as rats, but will also eat insects, lizards, eggs, fruit and the occasional snake. They search for prey by sniffing the ground and turning over rocks and stones.



Females undergo a two-month pregnancy before giving birth to two to four young.  The young are born with some hair but are unable to see for the first few days. Young mongooses are early developers and after several weeks begin hunting with their mother. Once they become skillful hunters,  they leave their mother to establish their own territories. They are able to reproduce when they reach two years of age. 



Indian grey mongooses live alone, but pair up during mating season. They sleep in burrows at night and come out during the day to hunt and bask in the sun. They are active, quick hunters. Because of their ability to capture and kill cobras, it was once believed that mongooses were immune to venom, but actually they are so quick when attacking a snake that they manage not to get bitten. Indian grey mongooses are extremely agile animals, capable of climbing walls and trees, running backwards for a short distance, and by using their hind legs, they are able to leap high in the air.



Indian grey mongooses are not considered a conservation concern at this time. 



Indian Gray Mongoose Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US