I’m always amazed to see that there are still mammals out that are relatively large and common, but way understudied. This is definitely the case with the white-tailed mongoose. Everyone goes to Kenya to study the elephants (how can you blame them!), lions, zebras, and other mega fauna, but forget about the little critters like this white-tailed mongoose!
Just doing a quick Google Scholar search, there are only a handful of studies that pop up despite their wide range from the Middle East to West, Central, and Southern Africa. Though they are smaller than other African carnivores, they are probably the heaviest of the mongoose.
The students I work with in Kenya run camera traps throughout several schools and these schools vary a lot in habitat. Interestingly, we only get this species at the schools where the habitat is degraded. You can tell from the photos because there is not a lot of vegetation and you can see there is a lot of soil exposed.
The white-tailed mongoose is an amazing urban adapters and you can find them raiding garbage in suburban areas. Although they look kind of like dogs, along with other mongoose species (mongooses? mongoose?), they are not dogs. They also look a lot like mustelids, but are not part of that family (weasels, badgers). They are in their own family, Herpestidae.
For more animals that are photographed on the student’s camera traps in Kenya, check out “17 Amazing Camera Trap Photos from Kenya Taken By Kids.”
Stephanie Schuttler is a wildlife biologist with 17 years of experience in mammal ecology and conservation, education, and outreach. Read her inspirational story, “My Unexpected Journey Into Science” to find out how she went from the daughter of a jeweler to a Ph.D. in wildlife biology. Feel free to contact Stephanie here.