The National Wildlife Federation

Donate Donate

Sometimes You Can Pick Your Parents

Young mongooses decide which adults will be their guardians

  • Hannah Schardt
  • Apr 01, 2009
AFRICA’S BANDED MONGOOSES live in cooperative breeding societies—extended family groups in which the adults that care for the young are not necessarily their biological parents. But cooperative doesn’t mean conflict-free. A recent study finds that a month after they are born, each young mongoose selects one particular adult to provide food and protection from predators. Not only do the pups do the choosing; they also fiercely guard their chosen adult against interacting with other juvenile mongooses.

Researcher Jason Gilchrist of Scotland’s Napier University made the surprising discovery when he separated banded mongoose pups from their escorts for two days. When the pups were released, they quickly returned to those caretakers and chased off young intruders.

Get Involved

   Please leave this field empty

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates