Mongoose or Meerkat…. so, what’s the difference?

You’ve seen them running around at Vaaloewer, small, furry, rodent like creatures, with long tails and sharp pointy faces.  Are they mongoose or meerkat?  These are indeed yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) or in Afrikaans called the Witkwas muishond or Rooimeerkat.  They are characterised by yellow or reddish fur and a long tail, with a white tip.

Slender Mongoose Galerella sanguine, is also found at Vaaloewer, though rarely seen. It is one of the smallest mongooses, with adults reaching approximately 60cm, tail included and is indeed, as the name suggests slender and sleek. You can spot the difference by the black tip on their tail.

So what’s the difference between these three?

• Meerkat usually inhabit dry deserts, whereas mongooses can range in different climates and habitats.

• Mongoose has a bushy tail but meerkat does not.

• The coat colours of mongooses vary across different species, while it is a fawn with gray and tan, or sometimes brown with silver tint in meerkats.

• Meerkat has an elongated face compared to mongoose.

• Meerkat has binocular vision, but mongoose does not.

• Meerkat can close their ears while digging, but mongoose cannot.

• Mongoose is carnivores, but meerkat is usually insectivorous mammal.

• Mongoose can attack snakes, but there are no such reports from the meerkat.

• Mongoose is immune to neurotoxins of the snake venom, while meerkats are immune to strong venoms of the scorpions.

YELLOW MONGOOSE Cynictis penicillata

seen eating an egg. He lives in our yard at 200 Visarend Street and will eat right out of Gallie’s hand. In Afrikaans they are commonly called Witkwas muishond or Rooimeerkat.


SLENDER MONGOOSE Galerella sanguinea

Very shy and very rarely seen, although there are families of them living at Vaaloewer



Yes, ok this is our very own Vaaloewer mascot! In the usual pictures of a Meerkat they will be standing on their handlegs, looking around intently, so cute.

But Stompie has decided to move in at the Vaaloewer boom gate entrance, to the delight of all. He (or is it a she!) can be seen peeking out of the gardens at passing traffic.  Stompie has been named by the locals since if you look closely he has lost a large portion of his tail at some stage.

Written by Dr Nature

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