Five get set in Discovery Centre!
Thursday 15 June 2006
Proud Dwarf Mongoose mum Squeak is busy nurturing her litter of five pups and getting them ready to meet their friends in the enclosure at Whipsnade’s Discovery Centre.
Born in May 2006, the pups are due to begin integrating with the rest of the main group over the next few weeks. They can currently be seen keeping close to mum and feeding comfortably under the gaze of the public.
Mother Squeak was born at Whipsnade herself and after being rejected by her own mother she was cautiously hand reared by keepers. This is her third litter of babies and with experience comes confidence.
When her first litter was born Squeak was so nervous that mother and pups were initially kept in darkness, to build her confidence gradually a low light was introduced to help the new family group grow associated with their surroundings.
Squeak had much more confidence with her second babies and now with her third litter she is proving a very attentive mother, cleaning and caring for her brood as nature intended.
Traditionally mother and babies are separated from the family group for the birth and the first few months of rearing. When the time comes the mother and pups will be reintroduced back to the complete family group.
Reintroduction is a gradual process that takes place through a series of limited access pens which allow the wider group to re-acquaint themselves with the mother and new pups and ensure that they are not presented as a threat.
Found in the savannah and mountain scrub of Ethiopia, Angola and Eastern South Africa, the mongoose will usually build a nest in an old termite mound giving birth to between one and seven live young following a gestation period of between 49 and 56 days.
Social in structure, usually with a dominant female, other members of the group will often help care for the young creating a crèche while the parents hunt for food.
Image copywrite Jane Sherlock / Dunstable Gazette