Total length 35 - 40 cm; tail 14 - 20 cm; shoulder height 7 cm; mass 0,22 - 0,35 kg
The dwarf mongoose is the smallest carnivore occuring in southern Africa. Its body is a uniform dark brown and from a distance it appears to be almost black. The fur is glossy and has a slightly grizzled appearance at close quarters.
Open woodland and grassland savanna. It is absent from very dry areas and forest but is often associated with rocky areas.
A stricktly diurnal mongoose usually living in troops of up to 10 individuals, although as many as 30 have been recorded. They have a fixed home, frequently in termitaria, but will use burrows dug by other species or excavated by themselves. Dwarf mongoose troops have a rigid social system with a dominant male and female, the rest of the members falling into a 'pecking order'. Usually only the dominant female breeds, and apart from suckling the young she leaves their care to the other troop members. When disturbed, dwarf mongooses will dive for cover but they are inquisitive and will soon re-emerge, standing on their hindlegs to look around.
Insects and other invertebrates are by far the most important prey items but they will also eat reptiles, birds and birds' eggs. Several troop member may cooperate to overpower larger prey.