Yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)

yellow mongoose

Found opposite the Amur tiger enclosure

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head and body length: 40-60 cm. Tail length: 18-25cm

Weight 450-900g

Gestation 2 - 2½ months

Young 1-5, but 2-3 is more common

Life span Up to 15 years

What do I eat?

Yellow mongoose will mostly feed on invertebrates such as insects and spiders, but they have been seen eating eggs and smaller animals including rodents and birds.

These animals will look for food (forage) in family groups of 5-10 individuals, and are mostly active during the day (diurnal).

Where do I live?

The yellow mongoose is found in southern Africa in countries such as Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

They prefer to live in habitats that have open grassland, scrub and arid savannah areas where they can find a wide variety of prey to eat.

These animals will dig out burrows where they will often rest during the night and hide in when there are threats nearby. They are known to share these burrows with other animals including ground squirrels and meerkats.


In the wild, the breeding season for yellow mongoose is typically from July to late September which means that most births will happen from October to November. Females can have litters of 1-5 offspring; however 2-3 are more common. The young are born within a chamber underground in their burrows, and are weaned from their mother’s milk by around 10 weeks old.

These animals are fully grown after 10 months old and will be able to breed from 12 months of age.


Even though the yellow mongoose is a predator, there are animals that will eat yellow mongoose! Birds of prey are one of the natural predators of many species of mongoose, as well as larger carnivores found in the same areas of this small mammal.

To stay safe, the yellow mongoose will live in small groups of 5-10 individuals so that there are more animals to look out for threats when they are out and about. If a threat is spotted, then an alarm call can be given to warn group members so that they can run for cover under vegetation or to the nearest hole or burrow.


At this time there are no specific conservation projects for the yellow mongoose, as they can be found in many protected areas across its range.

Did you know?

To get in to bird’s eggs, this species of mongoose has been seen rolling a egg close to a stone or rock and then throwing the egg between its legs so the egg will hit the stone or rock which would cause the egg to break!

Yellow mongoose are known to make different noises for different things, from a scream sound when fighting, to growling when threatened and even barks and purrs when communicating in a group.

In South Africa, wild yellow mongoose is known to be a host (or vector) to a strain of rabies that is found in that country. This has led to many farmers believing that the yellow mongoose is a danger to themselves and their animals, which has led to many yellow mongooses being hunted.


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