Small Asian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus)



This is the only mongoose found in Thailand. The general colour is grizzled dark brown, with the individual hairs having alternate white and dark brown rings; when excited , the mongoose erects its body hairs and the rings on the hairs form a alternate light and dark stripes, possibly for camouflage against strikes from snakes and other dangerous prey. The head is reddish, with a darker nose; the legs  are the same colour as the body or sometimes a little darker. The tail is 2 thirds the lenght of the head an body. The female as 3 sets of mammae. The skull is similar to that of H. urva, but is smaller , narrower and less robust. The crest are relatively longer than in H.urva. The orbit is usually complete in adults, The auditory bullae are relatively small and flat. The dentition is typical for mongooses, with the premolars and molars complex and trenchant, well adapted for a carnivorous diet.

Range Description:

The small Asian mongoose occurs across a wide range from Iran through northern India and into Indochina (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). In Asia, this species ranges from sea level to 2,100 m (Simberloff et al. 2000). Outside of its natural range, this species has many well established populations. Introduced mongoose has been implicated in the devastation of the native fauna, especially on islands (Baldwin et al. 1952, Seaman and Randall 1962, Nellis and Everard 1983, Coblentz and Coblentz 1985). The IUCN lists the Small Asian Mongoose as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species (Lowe et al. 2000). This species was introduced to the West Indies, the Hawaiian Islands, Mauritius, the Fijian Islands, and Okinawa (Simberloff et al. 2000), as well as the Comores and Amami-Oshima Island, Japan (Abe 2005). The reasoning behind these introductions was primarily control of rat and snake populations (S. Abe pers. comm. 2006). The Small Asian Mongoose is also often taken aboard ships, indirectly introducing them to new areas (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm.). The species recently reached Hong Kong (M. Lau pers. comm. 2006), and has also been recorded from the island of Madura, Indonesia (Meiri 2005), but it is not known whether this was due to human introduction or natural dispersal. There are several individuals from northern Sumatra (see van Strien 2001), which were described by Sody (1949) as H. javanicus tjerapai. Within its introduced range, the Small Asian Mongoose has been recorded from sea level to maximum elevations of 3,000 m on the Hawaiian Islands (Baldwin et al. 1952).
Countries: Native:
Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Thailand; Vietnam
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Fiji; Jamaica; Japan; Mauritius; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; United States (Hawaiian Is.); Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.


The Small Asian Mongoose has a relatively large population across its range, and tolerates a wide degree of habitat conversion perhaps preferring degraded habitats in some areas. In mainland Southeast Asia, this species reaches high densities in well-watered naturally open deciduous forests, scrublands and grassy areas as in southern Lao PDR, Viet Nam and much of Cambodia. Given adequate habitat the species is locally common (Le Xuan Canh et al. 1997), and widespread (Robertson et al. in prep.).

Snaring and other trapping pressures keep population numbers low in degraded habitats of large parts of Lao PDR - where the species might, if unmolested, be quite common (J.W. Duckworth pers. comm.). In India, it occurs at low densities and is not as common as Hespestes edwardsii (Shekhar 2003). In Myanmar, where village harvest of small carnivores and other similar-sized mammals seems to be much lower than in Lao PDR and Vietnam, the species is so common in places that it is trapped by conservation agencies as a pest (Su 2005).
Population Trend: Unknown

 Habitat and Ecology:

 The ecology of the Small Asian Mongoose has been studied in introduced parts of its range (Nellis 1989), but its ecology in its native range is known only to the level of coarse habitat correlations. The species is known to occur in a variety of habitats but appears to prefer well-watered naturally open deciduous forests, shrub lands and grasslands (Shekar 2003; J.W. Duckworth pers. comm.). While it tends to avoid closed evergreen forests, it will utilize secondary forest, degraded sites and areas of former evergreen forest opened by logging or similar practices (Lekagul and McNeely 1977; J.W. Duckworth pers. comm.). Where it has been introduced in the West Indies (Pimentel 1955, Nellis and Everard 1983) and the Hawaiian Islands (Baldwin et al. 1952) the species is found in grasslands, crops, and forest of various kinds, coastal areas, and even settled suburbs (Simberloff et al. 2000). It tends to prefer edge habitat in most areas.
This species is terrestrial, seldom climbing trees and feeds, during both the day and the night, on a wide diet, which includes rats, birds, reptiles, frogs, crabs, insects, and even scorpions (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It produces litters of two to four at short intervals, with a gestation period of about 7 weeks (Lekagul and McNeely 1977).
Systems: Terrestrial

Major Threat(s):

 The Small Asian Mongoose faces heavy exploitation in localized parts of its range, such as the Mekong Delta, but on the whole appears to be quite common and adaptable. This species is often captured and sold as pets (Shekhar 2003) and there is some commercial trade in China, India and Nepal. (A. Choudury pers. comm.). In Northern Vietnam it is hunted and sold in wild meat markets in both Vietnam and China (S. Robertson pers. comm.). None of these threats seem to be contributing to the decline of the species globally.

Conservation Actions:

 The Small Asian Mongoose is listed under CITES Appendix III in India (as Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus) (Wozencraft 2005). It is totally protected in Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand, and was listed as Vulnerable on the Chinese Red List (A1cd). In central India people consider the mongoose to be sacred, and thus it is not killed there (Shekhar 2003).