Indian grey mongoose
The Indian grey mongoose or common grey mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi) is a mongoose species mainly found in West Asia and on the Indian subcontinent. In North Indian languages (Hindi/Punjabi) it is called Nevlaa. The grey mongoose is commonly found in open forests, scrublands and cultivated fields, often close to human habitation. It lives in burrows, hedgerows and thickets, among groves of trees, and takes shelter under rocks or bushes and even in drains. It is very bold and inquisitive but wary, seldom venturing far from cover. It climbs very well. Usually found singly or in pairs. It preys on rodents, snakes, birds’ eggs and hatchlings, lizards and variety of invertebrates. Along the Chambal River it occasionally feeds on gharial eggs. It breeds throughout the year.
The Indian grey mongoose has tawny grey or iron grey fur, which is more grizzled and stiffer and coarser than that of other mongooses. The ruddiness of the coat varies in different subspecies, but it is described as appearing more grey than other mongooses. The grizzled appearance comes from the individual hairs being ringed by creamy-white and black. The legs are brown and darker than the body. The hair around the muzzle and eyes is also brown but with a stronger rusty red colouring. The tail is bushy, whilst the tip of the tail, if coloured, is pale yellow or white.
Their tail length equals their body length. Body length: 36–45 cm (14-17 inches) Tail length: 45 cm (17 inches), weight: 0.9-1.7 kg (2-4 lb). Males are significantly larger than the females. Indian grey mongooses are unusual in that they can discriminate four colours, more than most other mammals.
It has been generally accepted that the Indian grey mongoose occurs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, as represented by the distribution map. A 2007 study found specimens also in Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, thus extending the known range.
Despite being a common animal, the natural history of the Indian grey mongoose is not well known. They appear to be able to occupy a wide variety of habitats but preferring open types. These include grasslands, open areas, rocky patches, scrub, semi-desert, cultivated fields and other disturbed areas, areas of thickets, bushy vegetation, dry secondary forest, thorn forest, forest edges, and also near human settlement. Although the creature has been described as being less dependent on human settlements, observations in India in heavily forested areas show it to be much more common around human settlements often scavenging on waste.
The Indian grey mongoose often is kept as a pet to keep dwellings free from rats and other pests.
The Indian grey mongoose is the state animal of Chandigarh.
The species is protected in India, but an illegal trade in hair for the purposes of making of paint brushes and shaving brushes continues, and this is one of its most significant threats.
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