Affable giggler

Yellow mongoose

Revered by ancient civilisations, many troops of the gregarious 598-gram yellow mongoose call the scrub and grasslands of the West Coast home.

Diggers of note, they certainly don’t take a backseat in the architecture department. Their extensive 1,5-meter deep burrows have a choice of chambers and tunnels with no fewer than 40 entrances. And forget about aircon and heaters. These chaps have it down pat with thermoregulation and a micro-environment buffered against extremes.

Carnivorous and diurnal, Cynictis penicillata is fiercely territorial. But they’re a social lot. Not only do they live in a family group of a male and female with their youngest offspring, along with sub-adults, old adults and associated individuals, they even co-habit with ground squirrels and suricates.

Tail movements rule as a communication tool, but when playful, angry or scared, they purr, scream and bark. Happily, giggling accompanies mating from July until September. This, by the way, is quite the polygamous affair.

After 42-57 days’ gestation, the 2/3 pups are weaned at 10 weeks old, fully grown 8 months later and ready to breed within a year.

Primarily insectivorous, yellow mongooses also have a predilection for birds, frogs, lizards, eggs and small rodents on the menu, while after-dinner delights include fruits, nuts and seeds.