Friday 28 May 2004
One of Whipsnade's great successes so far this year is that "Squeak", our first hand-reared female dwarf mongoose, has successfully reared three of her own babies
Dwarf mongoose are notoriously difficult to breed and rear successfully. In 2000, the keepers at Whipsnade's Europe section managed to hand-rear a young female which they called Squeak. It was a major achievement, as not only did she survive but she was also fully integrated back into the group. This was all done with a lot of patience and it was a slow process. Once she was feeding independently after many sleepless nights of bottle feeds, her keepers slowly introduced her to the group.
They used a clever series of small enclosures within the main enclosure of mongoose, so that initially the group had visual contact with her through glass, then once she was transferred to a double meshed wire cage, the group could get use to her smell and sounds. Slowly over a number of weeks the barriers were reduced between Squeak and the group until she was fully accepted by the other mongoose, so much so that she has now become the dominant female and has gone on to breed.
This spring the keepers noticed that Squeak was pregnant and so they separated her from the group. She gave birth to three youngsters and has proved to be an excellent mother. During this time another female also gave birth but these two babies had to be hand-reared by keeper, Louisa Toner. Unfortunately only one survived but it has gone from strength to strength and once weaned at about six to eight weeks, it was slowly introduced to Squeak and her new family.
Initially this hand reared individual was introduced to Squeak babies one by one, so that it was accepted by the whole family. Once this had occurred the slow process started all over again to re-integrate Squeak and her family to the rest of the mongoose group. Now all four babies and Squeak can be seen with the rest of the mongoose in the Discovery Centre.