Tiny dwarf mongoose triplets, born at Chester Zoo, have emerged from their burrows for the very first time.
The miniature babies, each currently measuring around just 12cm-long, were spotted by keepers exploring the outside world, with their protective parents Hope and Cooper sticking close by.
Conservationists at the zoo reported hearing “tiny squeaks” inside the mongoose burrows several weeks ago but only now has the trio developed the confidence to frequently venture out.
The latest arrivals join a mob of seven at the zoo, which has been home to dwarf mongoose for more than 45 years.
Dave White, Team Manager at Chester Zoo, said:
“Dwarf mongooses are really sociable animals and so the whole group play a part in helping to look after the new triplets. As well as mum, some of the other with females even start producing milk for them to ensure they’re well fed. They working together in teams to care for the youngsters, often deploying a look out to alert the group to any danger while the babies are feeding.
“The pups are already playful but will soon build in confidence and, with dwarf mongooses being very curious and adventurous by nature, will certainly keep the group on their tiny toes.
“The dwarf mongoose is the smallest of all the carnivores found in Africa and only grow to around 30cm. Given the size of the pups, they’re a little too small to sex at the moment, but we should know if they’re male or female in the next few weeks.”
The tiny-clawed mammals are found in Africa where they live in woodlands, grasslands and rocky outcrops. They make short, chirping sounds to communicate with each other and usually live for around 10 years.
Dwarf mongoose facts
- The dwarf mongoose is Africa’s smallest carnivore, as well as the smallest of the mongoose species
- Adult dwarf mongoose only grow to about 30cm (12 inches)
- The group has a social structure with each mongoose having a job to do. One of the most important roles is that of the lookout who keeps a check on what's going on around and about
- This species can sometimes be seen doing handstands, in order to mark their territory through scent marking
- The dwarf mongoose is related to the meerkat
- They mainly feed on locusts, beetles, spiders, termites, grubs, mealworms, smaller mammals like mice, small birds, lizards and snakes
- The three new pups are believed to have been born on 16 February 2020
- The plural of mongoose is mongooses!