Total length 50 - 65 cm; tail 18 - 25 cm; mass 1,0 - 1,6 kg
This small, very distinctive mongoose has 10 - 12 dark-brown to black transverse bands on back, from behind shoulders to base of tail. Colour varies from grizzlede grey to grey-brown. Tail bushy and usually darker in colour towards tip. Head relatively long and pointed.
Wide habitat tolerance but absent from desert, semi-desert and rain forest. Preference for woodland with adequate ground cover.
Highly gregarious and social species; troops number 5-30 or more. When foraging maintain contact with constant soft calls. Troop's homerange will include several shelters, usually in termitaria. Size of homerange depends on number of pack members and availability of food. Frequent marking with anal gland secretions is performed on rocks and logs. Encounters with other troops may result in conflict but apparently they do not defend territories.
The most important food items are insects and other invertebrates, but they also take reptiles, amphibians, birds, carrion and probably small rodents. When feeding on birds' eggs they use the from feet to throw the eggs between the hindlegs against a rock of other hard object.