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Open AccessArticle

Flexible Use of Urban Resources by the Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penicillata

School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa
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Animals 2019, 9(7), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070447
Received: 20 June 2019 / Revised: 9 July 2019 / Accepted: 12 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behaviour and Management of Urban Wildlife)
Many species have become locally extinct because of urbanization. However, many thrive in urban areas because they originally have, or they have acquired, features that enable them to exploit urban areas. We studied the ecology of the urban yellow mongoose, a recent urban dweller in parts of South Africa. We investigated the diet, space use and activity habits of yellow mongooses, and whether they exploit residential gardens. Similar to their non-urban counterparts, yellow mongooses in urban areas fed on insects, particularly in spring/summer. The presence of human food items, small mammals and birds in scats increased during autumn/winter, when insects are known to be less abundant. Camera trap footage revealed that, similar to their non-urban counterparts, yellow mongooses in urban areas were more prevalent in open habitats, and showed an early morning, late afternoon diurnal activity pattern. These urban mongooses were more frequently near human residences than at sites further away. Their home range size was considerably smaller than that of non-urban mongooses and overlapped more with human residents during autumn/winter than during spring/summer. Overall, the urban yellow mongooses displayed characteristics similar to non-urban mongooses, particularly in their diet, habitat use and activity patterns. Yet, they modified their diet by including human food, occurred in gardens, and had smaller home ranges, indicating modifications for urban life.
Several species are negatively impacted by urbanization, while others thrive in urban areas by exploiting anthropogenic habitats matching their pre-existing niche preferences, or by modifying their behavior for urban life. We studied the ecology of a recent urban resident, the yellow mongoose, in an urban ecological estate in South Africa. We assessed urban dwelling yellow mongooses’ diet, spatial and temporal occurrence, home range size, and whenever possible, compared our findings to the published literature on their non-urban conspecifics. Additionally, we evaluated occurrence overlap with residential gardens. Similar to their non-urban counterparts, scat analyses revealed that yellow mongooses in urban areas fed mainly on insects, particularly during spring/summer. In the colder months, anthropogenic items, small mammals and birds in scats increased. Camera trap surveys showed that the mongooses were common in open habitats, similar to previous studies, and exhibited a species-typical bimodal diurnal activity pattern. The occurrence of these mongooses was greater near human residences than at sites further away. Home range sizes were considerably smaller than those of non-urban mongoose. Mongoose occurred in residential gardens, more so during the colder months. The urban yellow mongooses’ diet, habitat preference and activity patterns were similar to non-urban conspecifics. Nonetheless, the exploitation of anthropogenic food sources, occurrence in residential gardens and smaller home range sizes showed that they respond flexibly to urbanization, and these modifications might aid in their success in urban areas. View Full-Text
Keywords: anthropogenic food sources; diet; habitat; home range; urbanization; yellow mongoose anthropogenic food sources; diet; habitat; home range; urbanization; yellow mongoose
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Cronk, N.E.; Pillay, N. Flexible Use of Urban Resources by the Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penicillata. Animals 2019, 9, 447.

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