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mongoose, name for a large number of small, carnivorous, terrestrial Old World mammals of the civet family. They are found in S Asia and in Africa, with one species extending into S Spain. Mongooses are fierce, active hunters, feeding on a variety of ground-living animals, as well as eggs, and, in some species, fruits. They live in a variety of habitats and occupy rock crevices or holes, or dig burrows. Unlike civets, they lack scent glands. Typical mongooses, species of the genus Herpestes, are weasellike in appearance, with long, slender bodies, pointed faces, and bushy tails. Their hair is coarse and shaggy. They range in length from 11-2 to 31-2 ft (45–106 cm) including the tail, which is about as long as the head and body. The Indian gray mongoose, H. edwardsi, is known for its ability to kill snakes, including cobras. A medium-sized mongoose, it lives in arid rocky or brushy areas, or cultivated pastures. When attacking a snake, the mongoose provokes it to strike repeatedly, avoiding it by agile dodging; when the snake is exhausted the mongoose seizes its head in its jaws and crushes the skull. Skill in evading the snake is learned, and young mongooses often die of snakebite. However, ingested snake venom is harmless to the mongoose, which eats the snake's head and venom glands. The Indian mongoose is easily tamed and is often kept as a pet and a destroyer of household vermin. Imported into the West Indies to kill rats, it destroyed most of the small, ground-living native fauna. Because of their destructiveness, it is illegal to import mongooses into the United States, even for zoos. The Egyptian gray mongoose, or ichneumon, H. ichneumon, is a large species common in most of Africa and in S Spain. It lives in damp, forested regions and preys on small terrestrial and freshwater animals. The ancient Egyptians domesticated this mongoose, which they considered sacred. The marsh mongoose, Atilax paludinosus, lives near bodies of water in Africa and dives for food. The meerkat (Suricata suricatta), or suricate, is a social mongoose of S African grasslands; meerkats live in large communal burrows and prey chiefly on insects and other small invertebrates. Mongooses are classified in approximately 12 genera of the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Viverridae.


See H. E. Hinton and A. Dunn, Mongooses (1967); A. Rasa, Mongoose Watch (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Herpestes ichneumon), also African mongoose, a predatory mammal of the genus Herpestes of the family Viverridae. The body length measures up to 65 cm, and the tail length up to 50 cm. The fur is brownish gray. The tail is covered with long hairs.

The ichneumon is distributed in North Africa, Asia Minor, and southwestern Europe (Iberian Peninsula); it has become acclimatized in Yugoslavia, in Italy, and on the island of Madagascar. It lives in thickets, sometimes near human habitation. A nocturnal animal, it feeds on small rodents, birds, snakes, and insects. It is beneficial for its extermination of snakes, but, contrary to popular belief, it is susceptible to their venom. The ichneumon sometimes destroys poultry.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for members of the family Ichneumonidae.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, of Africa and S Europe, having greyish-brown speckled fur
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The ichneumon slides her long ovipositor into the hole and lays eggs inside the horntail larvae.
Government employees' unions living parasitically on Detroit have been less aware than ichneumon larvae.
Despite his significant contributions on the systematics of ichneumons, he was an unassuming person.
/Kaggen's concealment of himself in the Ichneumon's bag only makes sense, he argues, when interpreted in the context of shamanism.
Para este indice, no existieron diferencias significativas entre las especies mas pequenas del ensamble, el meloncillo y la gineta (Herpestes ichneumon y Genetta genetta), aunque el tamano del trigonido en relacion a las dimensiones del craneo fue mayor para Herpestes.
The ticks were collected from different animals including Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), sheep (Ovis aries), cow (Bos tauros), dog (Canis familiaris), and vegetation (Tables 1 and 2).
The horntail wasp (Tremex columba (L.), Siricidae) has larvae that bore into the trunks of many deciduous trees, and they are eaten in turn by the parasitoid ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa lunator (Fabr.), Ichneumonidae).
A wasp of the species Ichneumon eumerus, known only from four European meadows, needs to find one of these caterpillars to serve as a depository for a wasp egg and to nourish the wasp larva that hatches.
Now, it is usual in Sanskrit studies to speak of the mongoose as an 'ichneumon' (or, in German, 'Ichneumon'), a learned word borrowed from Greek ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'weasel, mongoose [vel sim.]', literally 'tracker'): Mayrhofer 1992: 2, who confidently renders nakula- as 'Ichneumon, Viverra ichneumon [sic]', may be taken as representative.