Facts About the Short-tailed Mongoose
Many people think that snakes are immune to predation by other animals. This may be because many snakes are venomous and the large ones like pythons can crush their enemies with their strong grip. This viewpoint is further reinforced by films like the Anaconda that portrays large snakes as almost invincible predators, acting like intelligent humans in pursuing their prey.
There are natural predators, however, that help control the population of venomous snakes. The fearsome cobra is preyed upon by magnificent fighters – the mongoose. Mongooses have a great tolerance toward the venom of snakes and are fast moving, dodging the quick strikes of snakes in the course of their fight for dominance. Snakes eventually get tired keeping up with the swift moves of the mongoose. The mongoose explores the opportunity and bites the back of the snake’s neck. The mongoose wins and eats the snake’s head. Some mongooses die, however, when they happen to eat the fangs that accidentally pierce the inner, soft tissues of the mongoose thereby spreading the venom into the bloodstream.
The Short-tailed Mongoose
Among these remarkable mongooses is the short-tailed mongoose. As the name connotes, it has a short tail relative to its body. It is also called the water mongoose because it spends most of its life near the water.
- Physical Characteristics
The short-tailed mongoose is approximately two feet long, its tail about one-third the length of its body. The short-tailed mongoose has five toes on each foot and the palms are generally naked. The general color of the short-tailed mongoose is yellowish red, mixed with black dorsally while ventrally, fur is reddish brown.
- Feeding Habits
The short-tailed mongoose, aside from preying on snakes, also eats fish and crustaceans. Because of this feeding habit, it spends much of its time in or near the water.
- Population Distribution
The short-tailed mongoose is found in mainland Palawan in western Philippines. It is also found in the Calamianes, a group of islands located north of mainland Palawan. Aside from the Philippines, populations of the short-tailed mongoose are also found in Malaysia, Borneo, and Brunei.
- Population Status
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the short-tailed mongoose under Least Concern because of its wide distribution and presence in protected areas. Scientists believe that large populations exist in its range.
However, more surveys are needed to verify the current status of the short-tailed mongoose population. For example, in the island of Palawan, Philippines where the mongoose population is confined, the short-tailed mongoose is seldom encountered in the wild.
Rabor, D. S, 1986. Guide to Philippine Flora and Fauna: Birds and Mammals. Natural Resource Management Center, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines.
©Patrick A. Regoniel 26 November 2010 Facts About the Short-tailed Mongoose
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