Banded mongooses are small carnivores, no more than 12 to 16 inches long and weighing three to five pounds. Similar in look to a weasel or cat, mongooses have brown and gray fur. Unlike other mongoose species, banded mongooses have dark bands across their backs, for which they are named. They have five digits on their front paws but only four on their back feet. Also, they have non-retractable claws used for digging.
Banded mongooses live in sub-Saharan and South Africa as well as habitats in Asia and Europe, where they can be found in grasslands, woodlands and rocky terrains. Although not native to the areas, mongooses also have populations in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands.
As carnivores, banded mongooses eat small vertebrates like birds, snakes and rats. Their diet also includes invertebrates like beetles or millipedes. They also are known to steal reptile or bird eggs and eat fallen fruit.
Banded mongooses are social animals that live in large packs with as many as 50 individuals, although smaller packs of 10 to 20 are more common. Diurnal animals, mongooses can be heard chattering to each other for most of the day. Banded mongooses work together in a group to fend off predators, first and foremost protecting their young and elderly. These mongooses will not stay in one habitat for more than a week, and when traveling they move together as would birds in flight.
Because the banded mongooses have such widespread habitats, the animals are not endangered.
Banded mongooses were introduced to the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands in the 19th century to control rat and snake populations but instead caused many bird species to go extinct.