The Egyptian mongoose's long, coarse fur is grey to reddish brown and ticked with brown and yellow flecks. Its snout is pointed, its ears are small. Its slender body is 48–60 cm (1 ft 7 in–2 ft 0 in) long with a 33–54 cm (1 ft 1 in–1 ft 9 in) long black tipped tail. Its hind feet and a small area around the eyes are furless. It has 35–40 teeth, with highly developed carnassials, used for shearing meat. It weighs 1.7–4 kg (3.7–8.8 lb).
Sexually dimorphic Egyptian mongooses were observed in Portugal, where some females are smaller than males.
Several hypotheses were proposed to explain the occurrence of the Egyptian mongoose in the Iberian Peninsula:
TraditionalIy, it was thought to have been introduced following the Muslim invasion in the 8th century.
Bones of Egyptian mongoose excavated in Spain and Portugal were radiocarbon dated to the first century. The scientists therefore suggested an introduction during the Roman Hispania era and use for eliminating rats and mice in domestic areas.
The Egyptian mongoose is diurnal.
In Doñana National Park, single Egyptian mongooses, pairs and groups of up to five individuals were observed. Adult males showed territorial behaviour, and shared their home ranges with one or several females. The home ranges of adult females overlapped to some degree, except in core areas where they raised their offspring.
In Spain, it has been recorded less frequently in areas where the Iberian lynx was reintroduced.
Captive males and females reach sexual maturity at the age of two years. In Doñana National Park, courtship and mating happens in spring between February and June. Two to three pups are born between mid April and mid August after a gestation of 11 weeks. They are hairless at first, and open their eyes after about a week. Females take care of them for up to one year, occasionally also longer. They start foraging on their own at the age of four months, but compete for food brought back to them after that age. In the wild, Egyptian mongooses probably reach 12 years of age. A captive Egyptian mongoose was over 20 years old.
Its generation length is 7.5 years.
A survey of poaching methods in Israel carried out in autumn 2000 revealed that the Egyptian mongoose is affected by snaring in agricultural areas. Most of the traps found were set up by Thai guest workers.
Numerous dried heads of Egyptian mongooses were found in 2007 at the Dantokpa Market in southern Benin, suggesting that it is used as fetish in animal rituals.
^Bandeira, V., Virgós, E., Barros, T., Cunha, M.V. and Fonseca, C. (2016). "Geographic variation and sexual dimorphism in body size of the Egyptian mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon in the western limit of its European distribution". Zoologischer Anzeiger. 264: 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.jcz.2016.06.001.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^Fredga, K. (1977). "Chromosomal Changes in Vertebrate Evolution". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 199 (1136): 377–397. JSTOR77302.
^Borralho, R., Rego, F., Palomares, F. and Hora, A. (1995). "The distribution of the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (L.) in Portugal". Mammal Review. 26 (25): 229−236. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.1996.tb00143.x.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^Eltringham, S. K., Morley, R.J., Kingdon, J., Coe, M. J. and McWilliam, N. C. (1999). "Checklist: Mammals of Mkomazi"(PDF). In Coe, M. J. (ed.). Mkomazi: The Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation of a Tanzanian Savanna. London: Royal Geographical Society, Institute of British Geographers. pp. 503–510. ISBN9780907649755.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
^Gaubert, P.; Machordom, A.; Morales, A.; et al. (2011). "Comparative phylogeography of two African carnivorans presumably introduced into Europe: disentangling natural versus human-mediated dispersal across the Strait of Gibraltar". Journal of Biogeography. 38 (2): 341−358. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02406.x. hdl:10261/51540.
^Palomares, F. and Delibes, M. (1993). "Social organization in the Egyptian mongoose: group size, spatial behaviour and inter-individual contacts in adults". Animal Behaviour. 45 (5): 917–925. doi:10.1006/anbe.1993.1111. S2CID53180507.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^Palomares, F. (1993). "Opportunistic feeding of the Egyptian mongoose, Herpertes ichneumon (L.) in Southwestern Spain". Revue d'Écologie (La Terre et la Vie). 48: 295–304.
^Ovadia, M. and Kochva. E. (1977). "Neutralization of Viperide and Elapidae snake venoms by sera of different animals". Toxicon. 15 (6): 541−547. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(77)90105-2. PMID906038.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^Jiménez, J.; Nuñez-Arjona, J. C.; Mougeot, F.; Ferreras, P.; González, L. M.; García-Domínguez, F.; Muñoz-Igualada, J.; Palacios, M. J.; Pla, S.; Rueda, C.; Villaespesa, F. (2019). "Restoring apex predators can reduce mesopredator abundances". Biological Conservation. 238: 108234. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108234. hdl:10578/24460.
^Palomares, F. and Delibes, M. (1992). "Some physical and population characteristics of Egyptian mongooses (Herpertes ichneumon L., 1758) in southwestern Spain". Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 57: 94–99.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
^Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. (2013). "Generation length for mammals". Nature Conservation (5): 87–94.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
^Linnaeus, Carl (1758). "Viverra ichneumon". Caroli Linnæi Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I (decima, reformata ed.). Holmiae: Laurentius Salvius. p. 41. (in Latin)
^Gmelin, J. F. (1788). "Viverra cafra". Caroli a Linné systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I (Editio decima tertia, aucta, reformata ed.). Leipzig: Georg Emanuel Beer. p. 85.
^Cuvier, F.G. (1834). "Mangouste d'Alger". Histoire naturelle des mammifères : avec des figures originales, coloriées, dessinées d'après des animaux vivans. Tome VII. Paris: Blaise. p. 68.
^Evans, L. (2017). "Beasts and Beliefs at Beni Hassan: A Preliminary Report". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 52: 219−229. doi:10.5913/jarce.52.2016.a013.
^Conan Doyle, Arthur (1893). The Adventure of the Crooked Man. "It's a mongoose," I cried. "Well, some call them that, and some call them ichneumon," said the man. "Snake-catcher is what I call them, and Teddy is amazing quick on cobras. I have one here without the fangs, and Teddy catches it every night to please the folk in the canteen.