The black mongoose (
Galerella nigrata) is a species of mongoose found
Namibia and Angola. Although originally described as a separate
species by Thomas (1928), it has often been considered a subspecies
of the slender mongoose. However, recent genetic analysis has
confirmed its status as a separate species. Evidence suggests the
two species diverged around four million years ago, likely due to some
populations becoming separated as the habitat in southern Africa was
changing. The black mongoose now occupies a distinct habitat in
areas with large boulders and rocky outcrops known as inselbergs in
the mountainous regions of northwest
Namibia and southwest Angola.
After remaining in these areas for millions of years, the black
mongoose is highly specialized to survive in the harsh arid
2 Diet and behavior
3 Range and habitat
The black mongoose resembles the slender mongoose except that its coat
is almost entirely black with dark reddish hues on the flank. The
black pelage is thought to be an adaptation to provide camouflage in
the shadowed crevices between large boulders where they hunt. These
mongoose have a body mass of about 0.7 to 0.9 kg and a body
length of about 6.4 to 7.0 cm with a tail between 3.2 and
Diet and behavior
Like other species of
Galerella in southern Africa, the black mongoose
has a broad diet, consuming adult, larval, and pupal Sarcophagid flies
and other insects, as well as reptiles, birds, small mammals and
fruits. They may sometimes scavenge meat but they prefer to eat the
flies and larva found near the carcass. The black mongoose is
mostly solitary, although occasional congregations may form, such as
in the presence of an abundant food source like the flies found near
the rotting carcass of a large animal. Although highly solitary,
they are not usually aggressive towards other members of their species
and are not known to be territorial. In fact, home ranges of males may
overlap up to 100%. However, scent-marking seems to occur through
marking with urine and rubbing of the throat and chest on rocks to
deposit scent gland products. Individuals usually have multiple dens
which they use sporadically but they do not share dens between
individuals. Males have been known to form temporary hunting pairs, in
which one individual flushes out prey for the other. Black mongoose
are stalking predators that will sometimes pursue prey much larger
than themselves such as rock hyraxes but more commonly they hunt
birds, like guinea fowl and drongos, and rodents.
Range and habitat
The range of the black mongoose extends from the Kunene River region
southward toward the Erongo Mountains of Namibia.
Black mongoose are
known as obligate petrophiles because they are highly adapted to
living in extremely rocky areas with many large boulders. They have
been observed to spend 65% of their time among boulders, where they
hunt and build their dens. They are habitat specialists and are
almost never observed in the relatively open plains found between the
isolated granite inselbergs. When in open areas, they are
vulnerable to predation from raptors such as the African hawk eagle.
Home ranges vary widely in size from 12 to 145 hectares.
^ a b Thomas O (1928). "Two new S. W. African mongooses". Ann. Mag.
Nat. Hist. 10 (59): 408. doi:10.1080/00222939208677435.
^ Tromp S (2007). "Introducing the black mongoose" (PDF). University
^ a b c d Rapson, Sarah A. (2012). "Species boundaries and possible
hybridization between the black mongoose (
Galerella nigrata) and the
slender mongoose (
Galerella sanguinea)". Molecular Phylogenetics and
Evolution. 65 (3): 831–839. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.08.005.
^ a b c d e Rathbun, Galen; Tristan Cowley (2008). "Behavioural
ecology of the black mongoose (
Galerella nigrata) in Namibia".
Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 73 (6):
^ Warren Y; Cunningham P; Mbangu A; Tutjavi V (2009). "Preliminary
observations of the diet of the black mongoose (
Thomas, 1928) in the Erongo Mountains, Namibia". African Journal of
Ecology. 47 (4): 801–803.
^ a b Rathbun, Galen; Tristan Cowley & Otto Zapke (2004). "Black
Galerella nigrata) home range and social behaviour affected
by abundant food at an antelope carcass". African Zoology. 40: