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Water Mongoose

wildlife of Namibia

Introduction: The water mongoose (Attlax paludinosus) is a small mammal with a preference for permanent freshwater habitats bordered by dense vegetation, such as marshes reed beds, and estuaries. There have been, however, some sightings of them being recorded in hilly areas with little or no aquatic wildlife presence. Their claws are short and blunt and used for digging .

It is a solitary animal and spends most of its active time during periods of darkness and twilight, or although some activity has been observed during the day. As you would expect from their name, they are excellent swimmers, but nonetheless they prefer to keep their head above water, and frequently rests on patches of grass and floating vegetation.

The water mongoose are creatures of habit and follow smooth and well-defined paths near shorelines and other water bodies, frequently hidden by vegetation. Their territories are rigidly enforced, exclusive, and usually spaced along the waters around which they dwell. If cornered or otherwise seriously frightened, this mongoose may shoot streams of foul, brown fluid from its anal sacs and when excited, they may make a high-pitched cry or an open-mouthed bleat.

Distribution: In Namibia the water mongoose is not surprisingly confined to the extreme north and north-east along the Kunene and Kavango Rivers and in the south along the Orange River.

Diet: This species of mongoose craves great quantities of food and consumes any form of meat it can catch, as well as a wide variety of fruit. They frequently swim along river banks, with its head above the water, patiently and methodically sifting through underwater holes and crevices looking for aquatic animals to eat. They are an intelligent creature, and have been observed throwing crabs and snails against rocks in order to break open the shells.

Other observations claim that the water mongoose will at times lay very still with its tail up, offering its pink anal region (a startling contrast against the dark fur), which tempts birds to come near and have a peck. When the birds approach, they are killed and consumed, before they've had a chance for some beak/anus interaction.

Colouring: The water mongoose has dark brown fur which is lighter on the undersides. The guard hairs are black-tipped and is long and coarse on the body and short about the hands and feet.

Breeding: Little is known of their breeding habits, but it is widely believed the 2 litters are produced a year, 1 in the dry season and the other in the wet season. They construct bedding of dry grass in a hole for birthing, always near water. If a hole is unavailable near water, a nest of reeds, grass, and sticks will be constructed. Up to 3 offspring per litter have been recorded.

Size: The water mongoose weigh weighs around 2.5 - 4kg, with a body measuring 46 - 62cm and a tail measuring 32 - 53cm.

Wildlife Namibia

  • Namibian Wildlife: Water Mongoose
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