Ring-tailed mongoose

Galidia elegans

The ring-tailed mongoose is a euplerid that lives on the island of Madagascar. There is actually much disagreement about the placement of Madagascar's carnivores including the ring-tailed mongoose, within the phylogenetic tree. Recent molecular work by Anne Yoder et al. reported in the journal "Nature" suggests that the Malagasy Carnivora evolved from a single herpestid ancestor.

The ring-tailed mongoose is relatively small but is the largest member of the subfamily Galidiinae. It is usually 32 to 38 cm long and weighs only 700 to 900 g . Its body is long and slender, and the rounded head has a pointed snout. The body is a dark red color and the feet are black. As the name implies, its bushy tail is covered with black and red rings.

Ring-tailed mongooses are very agile, and good climbers. They are quite playful and are active during the day. Their habitat consists of humid forests.

Their diet is mostly of small mammals, invertebrates, fish, reptiles and eggs, but they occasionally eat insects and fruit. The population of ring-tailed mongooses has decreased by 20% over the past ten years due to habitat loss. Another problem is competition with the small Indian civet .

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