Herpestids | Herpestoidea

Herpestoidea is a superfamily of carnivorous mammals that live in various climates throughout Eurasia, Africa, and Madagascar. It includes mongooses, Malagasy carnivorians, and hyenas. With the exception of hyenas, Herpestids have a cylindrical and elongated body; this allows them to burrow into holes to catch their prey. Most Herpestids are skilled hunters and predators that feed on a wide range of animals including small mammals and birds, reptiles, and a wide variety of insects. While some Herpestids are solitary, many are social animals that live in groups within complex burrow systems.

Where do mongooses live?

Mongooses typically live in the continent of Africa and their habitat extends over most of the continent. Some mongoose species live in parts of southern Asia as well as the Iberian Peninsula. Most Mongoose species are terrestrial while others are semi-aquatic and others live in the trees.

Is a mongoose a rodent?

A mongoose is not a rodent, despite its rodent-like appearance. A mongoose is a member of the Herpestidae family that also includes civets and meerkats. A mongoose often gets mistaken for and referred to as a rodent due to its fur, body length, pointed face, and bushy tail.

Why are mongooses immune to snake venom?

Mongooses are immune to snake venom due to them having a uniquely mutated receptor of the brain transmitter, acetylcholine. The toxins of many snake venoms bind to the acetylcholine receptors which block nerve-muscle communications. The venom as a result of the mutation bounces off the muscle cells which results in no harm.

Herpestids Guides
Browse through our curated Herpestids Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Herpestids. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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16”-20” | 41-51 cm (Shoulder)
5.9”-7.9” | 15-20 cm
21.6”-31.5” | 55-80 cm
18-26.5 lb | 8-12 kg
8-14 years
Aardwolf
51.000
20.000
80.000
12.000
14.00
37000
3D
Aardwolf
5.9”-9.1” | 15-23 cm (Shoulder)
2.75”-4.3” | 7-11 cm
12”-18” | 30.5-46 cm
3.3-5.5 lb | 1.5-2.5 kg
10-17 years
Banded Mongoose
23.000
11.000
46.000
2.500
17.00
2300
3D
Banded Mongoose
28”-31” | 71-79 cm (Shoulder)
11.8”-13.8” | 30-35 cm
39.4”-49.2” | 100-125 cm
84-104 lb | 38-47 kg
12-20 years
Brown Hyena
79.000
35.000
125.000
47.000
20.00
8100
3D
Brown Hyena
5.5”-5.9” | 14-15 cm (Shoulder)
2.75”-3.3” | 7-8.5 cm
12”-13” | 30.5-33 cm
1.3-1.5 lb | .6-.675 kg
10-13 years
Durrell’s Vontsira
15.000
8.500
33.000
0.675
13.00
80
3D
Durrell’s Vontsira
3.5”-5.5” | 9-14 cm (Shoulder)
2.4”-3.9” | 6-10 cm
7”-11” | 18-28 cm
.44-.77 lb | .2-.35 kg
8-18 years
Dwarf Mongoose
14.000
10.000
28.000
0.350
18.00
250
3D
Dwarf Mongoose
Fossa
44000
11.8”-13.8” | 30-35 cm (Shoulder)
5.5”-6.3” | 14-16 cm
27”-31” | 69-79 cm
12-19 lb | 5.5-8.6 kg
15-23 years
Fossa
35.000
16.000
79.000
8.600
23.00
44000
3D
Fossa
6.3”-9.1” | 16-23 cm (Shoulder)
4.9”-7.5” | 12.5-19 cm
12”-18” | 30.5-46 cm
1-3.1 lb | .45-1.4 kg
9-13 years
Kusimanse
23.000
19.000
46.000
1.400
13.00
30
3D
Kusimanse
Meerkat
87000
5.7”-7.9” | 14.5-20 cm (Shoulder)
2.75”-3.5” | 7-9 cm
9.8”-13.8” | 25-35 cm
1.3-2.2 lb | .6-1 kg
8-20 years
Meerkat
20.000
9.000
35.000
1.000
20.00
87000
3D
Meerkat
27.6”-36.2” | 70-92 cm (Shoulder)
9.8”-13.8” | 25-35 cm
37.4”-55.1” | 95-140 cm
99-165 lb | 45-75 kg
12-25 years
Spotted Hyena
92.000
35.000
140.000
75.000
25.00
15000
3D
Spotted Hyena
25.5”-29.5” | 65-75 cm (Shoulder)
11.8”-13.8” | 30-35 cm
35.4”-45.3” | 90-115 cm
44-99 lb | 20-45 kg
10-25 years
Striped Hyena
75.000
35.000
115.000
45.000
25.00
15000
3D
Striped Hyena
7.9”-10.6” | 20-27 cm (Shoulder)
3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm
17.7”-25.6” | 45-65 cm
3.3-10 lb | 1.5-4.5 kg
7-9 years
Western Falanouc
27.000
13.000
65.000
4.500
9.00
20
3D
Western Falanouc
4.3”-5.9” | 11-15 cm (Shoulder)
2”-3” | 5-7.5 cm
9”-13” | 23-33 cm
1-1.3 lb | .45-.6 kg
10-15 years
Yellow Mongoose
15.000
7.500
33.000
0.600
15.00
700
3D
Yellow Mongoose
Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Spotted Hyena compared to simliar Herpestid species

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the Laughing Hyena, is hyena species that is characterized by its various vocalizations of communication, and sociable personality. The Spotted Hyena has a bear-like body covered with a fur pattern that has a unique spot pattern of large dark brown-red spots that do not change with age. The Spotted Hyena is native to the sub-Saharan Africa regions, living in extreme desert conditions, tropical rainforests, and alpine mountains. The Spotted Hyena eats Wildebeests, Zebras, and Impalas. Its lifespan ranges from up to 20 years in the wild, up to 40 years in captivity, and is not in danger of extinction.

The Spotted Hyena has a body length in the range of 37.4”-55.1” (95-140 cm) and total weight of 99-165 lb (45-75 kg). Spotted Hyenas have a shoulder height between 27.6”-36.2” (70-92 cm), body width of 9.8”-13.8” (25-35 cm), and tail length of 9.8”-14.2” (25-36 cm). The typical lifespan of the Spotted Hyena is between 12-25 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Spotted Hyena viewed from the front and side
The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the Laughing Hyena, is hyena species that is characterized by its various vocalizations of communication, and sociable personality. The Spotted Hyena has a bear-like body covered with a fur pattern that has a unique spot pattern.

The Spotted Hyena has a body length in the range of 37.4”-55.1” (95-140 cm) and total weight of 99-165 lb (45-75 kg). Spotted Hyenas have a shoulder height between 27.6”-36.2” (70-92 cm), body width of 9.8”-13.8” (25-35 cm), and tail length of 9.8”-14.2” (25-36 cm). The typical lifespan of the Spotted Hyena is between 12-25 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Spotted Hyena viewed from the front and side
Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)
Height:
27.6”-36.2” | 70-92 cm (Shoulder)
Width:
9.8”-13.8” | 25-35 cm
Length:
37.4”-55.1” | 95-140 cm
Depth:
Weight:
99-165 lb | 45-75 kg
Area:

Tail Length: 9.8”-14.2” | 25-36 cm

Scientific Name
Crocuta crocuta
Lifespan
12-25 years

Drawings include:

Spotted Hyena side elevation, front, back, lying down

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Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo)
Scale illustration of an average Banded Mongoose compared to other species of Herpestids

The Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a mongoose species that lives in savannas, open forests, and grasslands from the Sahel to Southern Africa. It occupies various types of dens for shelter like termite mounds. Physically it is sturdily built with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs, and a long tail. The fur is rough and gray-brown and black with dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. The Banded Mongoose eats insects, myriapods, small reptiles, and birds; millipedes and beetles make up the majority of its diet.

The Banded Mongoose has a body length in the range of 12”-18” (30.5-46 cm) and total weight of 3.3-5.5 lb (1.5-2.5 kg). Banded Mongooses have a shoulder height between 5.9”-9.1” (15-23 cm), body width of 2.75”-4.3” (7-11 cm), and tail length of 5.9”-11.8” (15-30 cm). The typical lifespan of the Banded Mongoose is between 10-17 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Banded Mongoose seen from the side and front
The Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a mongoose species that lives in savannas, open forests, and grasslands from the Sahel to Southern Africa. It occupies various types of dens for shelter like termite mounds. Physically it is sturdily built with a large head, small ears, and short muscular limbs.

The Banded Mongoose has a body length in the range of 12”-18” (30.5-46 cm) and total weight of 3.3-5.5 lb (1.5-2.5 kg). Banded Mongooses have a shoulder height between 5.9”-9.1” (15-23 cm), body width of 2.75”-4.3” (7-11 cm), and tail length of 5.9”-11.8” (15-30 cm). The typical lifespan of the Banded Mongoose is between 10-17 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Banded Mongoose seen from the side and front
Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo)
Height:
5.9”-9.1” | 15-23 cm (Shoulder)
Width:
2.75”-4.3” | 7-11 cm
Length:
12”-18” | 30.5-46 cm
Depth:
Weight:
3.3-5.5 lb | 1.5-2.5 kg
Area:

Tail Length: 5.9”-11.8” | 15-30 cm

Scientific Name
Mungos mungo
Lifespan
10-17 years

Drawings include:

Banded Mongoose side elevation, front

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Meerkat (Suricata suricatta)
Scale illustration of an average Meerkat compared to other species of Herpestids

The Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mongoose that lives in the arid, open habitats in southern Africa. There is a social hierarchy with packs of two to 30 animals that occupy large burrow systems in plains. The burrows provide a comfortable microclimate with a large underground network that protects the Meerkat from harsh weather and extreme temperatures. As insectivores the Meerkat feeds heavily on beetles and lepidopterans, and it sometimes eats amphibians, arthopods, small birds, and reptiles. Physically, the coat is light gray to yellow-brown with light and dark bands on the back, and the foreclaws aid in digging. It also has large eyes, a pointed snout, and long legs.

The Meerkat has a body length in the range of 9.8”-13.8” (25-35 cm) and total weight of 1.3-2.2 lb (.6-1 kg). Meerkats have a shoulder height between 5.7”-7.9” (14.5-20 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.5” (7-9 cm), and tail length of 6.7”-9.8” (17-25 cm). The typical lifespan of the Meerkat is between 8-20 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Meerkat seen from the side and front
The Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mongoose that lives in the arid, open habitats in southern Africa. There is a social hierarchy with packs of two to 30 animals that occupy large burrow systems in plains. The burrows provide a comfortable microclimate with a large underground network.

The Meerkat has a body length in the range of 9.8”-13.8” (25-35 cm) and total weight of 1.3-2.2 lb (.6-1 kg). Meerkats have a shoulder height between 5.7”-7.9” (14.5-20 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.5” (7-9 cm), and tail length of 6.7”-9.8” (17-25 cm). The typical lifespan of the Meerkat is between 8-20 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Meerkat seen from the side and front
Meerkat (Suricata suricatta)
Height:
5.7”-7.9” | 14.5-20 cm (Shoulder)
Width:
2.75”-3.5” | 7-9 cm
Length:
9.8”-13.8” | 25-35 cm
Depth:
Weight:
1.3-2.2 lb | .6-1 kg
Area:

Tail Length: 6.7”-9.8” | 17-25 cm

Scientific Name
Suricata suricatta
Lifespan
8-20 years

Drawings include:

Meerkat side elevation, front, upright (assorted)

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Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea)
Scale illustration of an average Brown Hyena compared to other species of Herpestids

The Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) is a hyena that lives in desert areas, semi-desert, and open wooded savannahs in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. They have a long and shaggy dark brown coat, pointed ears, and a short tail. Adults have a cream-colored fur ruff around their necks, and their legs are striped brown and white. Like wolves, Brown Hyenas have a social hierarchy, and they live in clans made of extended families of four to six hyenas. As scavengers they mostly eat carcasses killed by larger predators, but they supplement their diet with rodents, insects, fruit, and fungi.

The Brown Hyena has a body length in the range of 39.4”-49.2” (100-125 cm) and total weight of 84-104 lb (38-47 kg). Brown Hyenas have a shoulder height between 28”-31” (71-79 cm), body width of 11.8”-13.8” (30-35 cm), and tail length of 7.9”-13.8” (20-35 cm). The typical lifespan of the Brown Hyena is between 12-20 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Brown Hyena seen from the side and front
The Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) is a hyena that lives in desert areas, semi-desert, and open wooded savannahs in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. They have a long and shaggy dark brown coat, pointed ears, and a short tail. Adults have a cream-colored fur ruff.

The Brown Hyena has a body length in the range of 39.4”-49.2” (100-125 cm) and total weight of 84-104 lb (38-47 kg). Brown Hyenas have a shoulder height between 28”-31” (71-79 cm), body width of 11.8”-13.8” (30-35 cm), and tail length of 7.9”-13.8” (20-35 cm). The typical lifespan of the Brown Hyena is between 12-20 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Brown Hyena seen from the side and front
Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea)
Height:
28”-31” | 71-79 cm (Shoulder)
Width:
11.8”-13.8” | 30-35 cm
Length:
39.4”-49.2” | 100-125 cm
Depth:
Weight:
84-104 lb | 38-47 kg
Area:

Tail Length: 7.9”-13.8” | 20-35 cm

Scientific Name
Hyaena brunnea
Lifespan
12-20 years

Drawings include:

Brown Hyena side elevation, front

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Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)
Illustrated comparison diagram of the Dwarf Mongoose compared to simliar Herpestid species

The Common Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) lives in the dry grasslands and open forests of Angola, northern Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and East Africa. It has the characteristics of a typical mongoose- a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, and short limbs and long claws. The fur is soft and varies in color, from yellow-red to dark brown. The Common Dwarf Mongoose mostly eats insects- beetle larvae, termites, grasshoppers, and crickets, but it will occasionally eat small lizards, snakes, small birds, rodents, and berries. As a social species, the Common Dwarf Mongoose lives in extended family groups of two to thirty animals.

The Dwarf Mongoose has a body length in the range of 7”-11” (18-28 cm) and total weight of .44-.77 lb (.2-.35 kg). Dwarf Mongooses have a shoulder height between 3.5”-5.5” (9-14 cm), body width of 2.4”-3.9” (6-10 cm), and tail length of 4.7”-7.9” (12-20 cm). The typical lifespan of the Dwarf Mongoose is between 8-18 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Dwarf Mongoose in front and side poses
The Common Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula) lives in the dry grasslands and open forests of Angola, northern Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and East Africa. It has the characteristics of a typical mongoose- a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, and short limbs and long claws.

The Dwarf Mongoose has a body length in the range of 7”-11” (18-28 cm) and total weight of .44-.77 lb (.2-.35 kg). Dwarf Mongooses have a shoulder height between 3.5”-5.5” (9-14 cm), body width of 2.4”-3.9” (6-10 cm), and tail length of 4.7”-7.9” (12-20 cm). The typical lifespan of the Dwarf Mongoose is between 8-18 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Dwarf Mongoose in front and side poses
Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)
Height:
3.5”-5.5” | 9-14 cm (Shoulder)
Width:
2.4”-3.9” | 6-10 cm
Length:
7”-11” | 18-28 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.44-.77 lb | .2-.35 kg
Area:

Tail Length: 4.7”-7.9” | 12-20 cm

Scientific Name
Helogale parvula
Lifespan
8-18 years

Drawings include:

Dwarf Mongoose side elevation, front

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