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mongooses, a genus of mammals of the family Viverridae.
The body of the mongoose is low and elongate, from 23 to 64 cm in length; the tail is an additional 23–51 cm. Weight ranges from 0.5 to 3.2 kg. The fur is short, in some, an olive-gray or yellowish-brown monotone, and in others, variegated (with white markings). The inguinal glands produce a strong-smelling secretion. There are eight species of Herpestes, distributed in southern Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and neighboring islands. The animals live in forests and brush and among the reeds around bodies of water. They hunt day and night, usually singly, although small groups may form. They live in burrows or natural crevices in the ground. They feed on small rodents, birds, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, and insects. Some species are known for their ability to kill and eat large venomous snakes. There are between two and four offspring in a litter. The animals were imported to the West Indies and the Hawaiian Islands for the purpose of ridding them of rats and snakes, but they reproduced intensively and became harmful to poultry farming. A typical representative of the genus is the ichneumon, or African mongoose.
O. L. ROSSOLIMO