Brown Mongoose, Valparai

Shashank Dalvi


Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The fascinating world of lesser-known mammals is a rich field for observation and scientific study. Even small glimpses like the one above help add to our knowledge over time.

The brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) is restricted to evergreen forests, plantations and even human habitations in the Southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Not much is known about this species compared to other mongooses.  Camera trap surveys suggest that they are less diurnal and more crepuscular than other species of mongooses.

During a recent visit to Valparai we came across a brown mongoose in a small stream amidst tea plantations. Valparai is possibly the best place to observe this species in the wild. Interestingly the individual we spotted was feeding on plant material. While it is not the usual diet of this species, many carnivores are known to occasionally feed on plant material too.

Apparently, brown mongooses can sometimes be seen foraging in garbage dumps in and around Valparai. Such garbage dumps and trash left behind by picnickers can be a problem for some animals, since it may trigger behavioral change in the species. Personally, we have observed species like the stripe-necked mongoose (usually a diurnal species) feeding on garbage well after dark. Whether the brown mongoose is already facing such behavioural alterations is probably unknown.

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About the author

Shashank Dalvi

Shashank Dalvi is an alumnus of the MSc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation Program (NCBS, WCS-India) and currently works with the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore.


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