The past year was a year of big arrivals, notably black rhino King, who’s now tipping the scales at more than 500 pounds. But we like to celebrate the small ones as well. With that in mind, I’m happy to announce the birth of two dwarf mongooses at Regenstein Small Mammal–Reptile House.
One of the growing dwarf mongooses poses with mom and dad.
The little ones were actually born November 19, although mom opted to keep them in their behind-the-scenes den for their first couple weeks of life. The female and her mate began carrying them out for the public to see in early December. The two pups started moving on their own soon after that—and they’ve barely stopped since!
Native to eastern Africa, dwarf mongooses are small, burrowing carnivores. Adults can reach up to 10 inches in length, but the new arrivals are still significantly smaller than mom and dad—they won’t reach their adult size until May.
The birth came about thanks to a breeding recommendation from the Dwarf Mongoose Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This is the first dwarf mongoose litter at Lincoln Park Zoo since 1998, and it’s been fun to watch the extra activity.
Of course, the two little ones are still babies, meaning they catch up on naps throughout the day. They’re still nursing as well, but they’ve started eating solid foods including the chow that makes up the adult diet as well as the occasional insect or produce for enrichment.
The two new arrivals check each other out.
Enrichment is a lot of fun with this species—they’re very curious and like to explore whatever items caregivers place in their exhibit. You can often find the whole family cuddling together under the heat lamp at the top of their dual-level habitat. It’s a cute sight.
It may be cold outside, but it’s plenty warm inside Regenstein Small Mammal–Reptile House. Come see the baby mongooses before they’re all grown up!