If you’ve ever seen a mongoose, you probably thought it was a cute little creature similar in appearance to a cat, fat ferret, or weasel. But did you know that mongooses are powerful predators and fearless hunters for their size? Did you know that they have an uncanny ability to hunt, kill, and eat poisonous snakes? So, what does a mongoose eat, besides snakes? Keep reading to find out more!
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What Foods Do Mongooses Eat?
Perhaps the more appropriate question is, what do mongooses not eat?
Mongooses are small, adorable looking mammals, but concealed inside their triangular snouts are large mouths and rows of sharp teeth that will eat just about anything they can find and kill. Mongooses are opportunistic feeders, and while they mostly eat other animals, they sometimes eat plant materials as well.
For this reason, mongooses are technically omnivores.
There are many different species of mongoose living in different regions; they are native to parts of Africa and Asia but have become prevalent to other areas as well. As you might imagine, their diet depends largely on what’s available to them, so they eat different things depending on their location and species.
According to Britannica, some common mongoose food groups include:
- Mammals: Mongooses will eat a variety of small mammals, especially mice and rats. Technically, they could kill and eat any mammal up to their own size, but they usually stick to smaller prey.
- Birds: Mongooses will eat a variety of birds, particularly those that nest or feed on the ground. They are quick hunters and can easily strike without warning, preventing the birds from flying away.
- Reptiles: Mongooses frequently eat snakes, lizards, and any other small reptiles they can catch. They are particularly known for their ability to hunt poisonous snakes, as their blood contains a protein that neutralizes snake venom so they are able to hunt these snakes without fear of poisoning.
- Eggs: Mongooses will steal the eggs of various types of animal. In Hawaii, for example, they are known for taking the eggs of sea turtles and birds that nest on the ground.
- Plants: Occasionally, mongooses also eat plant matter to supplement their diet or if they can’t find other animals to hunt. Some plants they eat include nuts, seeds, berries, and other types of fruit.
Mongooses may also attempt to steal kills from other animals and occasionally even eat carrion that they find in the wild. Some species will also eat insects, depending on what is available and plentiful in their region.
What is a Mongoose’s Favorite Food?
It’s hard to say exactly what a mongoose’s favorite food is. For one thing, there are various species living in diverse areas, and each species may have a different preference when it comes to the animals they hunt.
More to the point, though, is that mongooses simply are not picky.
According to the State of Hawaii, mongooses were originally introduced in the state to control rat populations in the sugar cane fields. But mongooses have proven to do more harm than good in Hawaii, as they also eat many beneficial animals and insects, including some endangered species.
In other parts of the world, mongooses are known for eating poisonous snakes, including the king cobra. Often, they are able to attack and kill the snake with a crushing blow to the skull before the snake can react, but even if the snake manages to bite the mongoose, the bite will not cause any harm.
Again, mongooses will take what they can get. They are not picky about what they eat, so it’s hard to say whether they have a favorite food or, for that matter, if there is anything they wouldn’t eat under any circumstances.
Do Mongooses Eat Cats?
As you can probably tell from their wide range of food options, as well as the fact that they will hunt poisonous snakes, mongooses are ferocious little creatures. Some species can grow as large as cats, and these are certainly powerful enough to fight, kill, and even eat a cat.
That said, cats are not high on the list of mongoose’s preferred foods.
Generally speaking, mongooses don’t eat cats–both animals seem to coexist fairly peacefully and rarely engage in a fight to the death. Some mongooses may kill and eat unattended kittens, but full-grown cats tend to provide a much bigger challenge for them.
That said, cats and mongooses do appear to have a strained relationship in some places.
As you can see in the following video, cats appear to be wary of mongooses, even those much smaller than themselves.
According to the individual who posted this video, mongooses have a reputation for fighting cats and biting off their tails. Whether this is just a local rumor or true fact is unclear, but it’s obvious from the video that, whatever the reason, cats prefer to avoid mongooses.
What Do Mongooses Kill?
As noted above, mongooses are notorious for their ability to kill snakes, including a number of poisonous ones. They do this by biting down on their heads, crushing the snake’s skull.
In fact, this is how they kill most of their prey. They are excellent hunters, as they can strike quickly, and their powerful jaws and shark teeth can kill prey almost instantly.
That said, they generally don’t kill except for the purpose of hunting. But by the same token, mongooses are fearless and will kill any animal they think they can use for their next meal.
Mongooses are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything they can kill or scrounge up. These impressive hunters will take down everything from rats and mice to poisonous snakes, but they will also eat carrion, insects, animal eggs, and various plant materials.