Giant-striped mongooses (Galidictis grandidieri) are found in the spiny desert region of southwestern Madagascar, also known as the Didlerea-Euphorbia thicket. At one time they were found in the Itampolo area and were thought to exist in the Mahafaly Plateau region also. Most recently, they were found in the Tsimanampetsotsa Reserve. The total area of occupation by this species is documented at 43,200 ha.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Other Geographic Terms: island endemic
- Goodman, S. 1996. A Subfossil Record of Galidictis grandidieri (Herpestidae: Galidiinae) from Southwestern Madagascar. Mammalia, 60 (1): 150-151.
- IUCN. 2002. "2002 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line ). Accessed 11/02/02 at http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=8834.
- Wozencraft, W. 1986. A New Species of Striped Mongoose from Madagascar. Journal of Mammology, 67 (3): 561-571.
Giant-striped mongooses are much larger than other Malagasy mongooses. Galidictis grandidieri is approximately 32 to 40 cm in length and weighs about 499 to 589 g. The tail is 28 to 30 cm long.
The species is known for its light brown, creamy colored hair. Individuals are marked with eight dark stripes running longitudinally down the back. The stripes are narrower than the spaces in between the stripes. They originate at the base of the ears and follow the body to the base of the tail. This species of mongoose also has longer legs and larger feet than any of the other Malagasy mongooses. There is currently no published information that indicates that giant striped mongooses are sexually dimorphic. Males and females look the same, but a scent pouch is present in the females. Juveniles appear to look much the same as adults as well, except for the difference in size.
The skull of G. grandidieri is larger than that of other mongooses, and has a well-developed sagittal crest and a short supraorbital process. The term robust is often used to describe the skull of this species.
The dental formula for G. grandidieri is 3/3, 1/1, 3-4/3, 2/2 = 36-38. Galidictis grandidieri differs from its close relative Galidictis fasciata in that G. grandidieri has a wider rostrum at the canines, a longer mandible, and longer premolars. The canines of mongooses closely occlude with one another and are good for shearing. The conical crushing teeth of this species are much like the teeth of crab-eating mongooses of India.
Range mass: 499 to 589 g.
Range length: 32 to 40 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
- Nowak, R. 1995. "Malagasy Broad Striped Mongooses" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Accessed June 15, 2004 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/carnivora/carnivora.viverridae.galidictis.html.
- Postanawicz, R. 1997-2002. "Malagasy Giant-striped Mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri)" (On-line ). Lioncrusher's Domain. Accessed 10/12/02 at http://www.lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=149.
Madagascar Spiny Thickets Habitat
Lemur catta is an Endangered taxon near-endemic to the Madagascar spiny thickets ecoregion. While the island of Madagascar is notable for exceptional levels of endemic plants and animals, the spiny thicket is particularly distinctive with 95 percent of the plant species endemic to the ecoregion. Members of the endemic Didiereaceae family present dominate the thicket, which have similar xeric adaptations to New World cacti, such as small leaves and spines, but with the Madagascar spiny thickets displaying more woody rather than succulent characteristics.
There are two major rock types in the ecoregion; the Tertiary limestone of the Mahafaly Plateau and the unconsolidated red sands of the central south and southeast. This geology corresponds to a major division in the habitat. The taller, dense dry forest on the sandy soils is dominated by Didieria madagascariensis, and the more xeric adapted vegetation on the calcareous plateau around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa is characterized by dwarf species.
The fauna of the ecoregion is also distinctive and includes three strictly endemic mammals, the White-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) and Microcebus griseorufus. Near-endemic mammals include the Large-eared tenrec (Geogale aurita), and the Lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). Six other lemurs are found only in spiny thicket and the adjacent Succulent Woodlands ecoregion, Red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus), Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), the Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Forked-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer), Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), and Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). The mongoose species is considered endangered on the current IUCN Red Data List, and Verreaux’s sifaka and the Ring-tailed lemur are classified as Vulnerable. Some mammals have highly restricted ranges within the ecoregion. Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) was described as recently as 1986 and has a restricted range around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. Subfossils have been identified from a cave near Itampolo, south of Lake Tsimanampetsotsa.
Species of reptiles endemic to the ecoregion include the chameleons Furcifer belalandaensis and F. antimena. Further, the Madagascan spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), and the Radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) are found in this ecoregion and the zone to the north, the succulent woodlands. The Madagascar ground boa (Acrantophis dumerilii) is found in this ecoregion, although not exclusively. Many more species are endemic to the ecoregion including the rock dwelling iguanids Oplurus saxicola and O. fihereniensis, the Day gecko (Phelsuma breviceps), nocturnal geckos Ebenavia maintimainty and Matoatoa brevipes, and the snake Liophidium chabaudi.
There are a number of amphibian taxa present within the ecoregion, the totality of which are: Ansouhy tomato frog (Dyscophus insularis); Betsileo Madagascar frog (Mantidactylus betsileanus); Brown rainfrog (Scaphiophryne brevis); Dumeril's bright-eyed frog (Boophis tephraeomystax); Madagascar bullfrog (Laliostoma labrosum); Mascarene grassland frog (Ptychadena mascareniensis); the Endangered Blue-legged mantella (Mantella expectata); and the Goudot's bright-eyed frog (Boophis goudotii).
There are eight bird species endemic to the ecoregion and an additional two bird taxa that live only on the western drier side of the island. Endemic species include Verreaux's coua (Coua verreauxi), running coua (Coua cursor), Lafresnaye’s vanga (Xenopirostris xenopirostris), red-shouldered vanga (Calicalicus rufocarpalis), Archibold’s newtonia (Newtonia archiboldi), and littoral rock-thrush (Monticola imerinus). Some of these endemics are quite restricted in their geographical range. For example, two endemic species are known only from a narrow coastal strip on the northwest edge of the ecoregion. They are subdesert mesite (Monias benschi) and long-tailed ground roller (Uratelornis chimaera). Each of these species belong to monospecific genera and are representatives of two of the five families endemic to Madagascar. Another, the recently described red-shouldered vanga, is known only from the Toliara region. The Madagascar plover (Charadrius thoracicus) is near-endemic to this ecoregion, but is also found along the west coast into the Succulent Woodlands and the Dry Deciduous Forest ecoregions, while the Thamnornis warbler (Thamnornis chloropetoides) extends only slightly outside this ecoregion into the Succulent Woodlands ecoregion.
The Red-shouldered vanga and Long-tailed ground roller are recorded as Vulnerable species on the recent IUCN Red List of Threatened species.
- Ganzhorn, J.U., B. Rakotosamimanana, L. Hannah, J. Hough, L. Iyer, S. Olivieri, S. Rajaobelina, C. Rodstrom, G. Tilkin. 1997. Priorities for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. Primate Report 48-1, Germany.
- World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan. 2015. Madagascar spiny thickets. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
Habitat and Ecology
Giant-striped mongooses are found in the spiny desert region of southwestern Madagascar, classified as subtropical or tropical dry, which receives only 10 to 40 cm of rain per year. Vegetation of the spiny desert includes species of Euphorbia and Pachypodium. Much of the vegetation has sharp spines and/or thorns, making it very inhospitable to humans and difficult for researchers to navigate. The Tsimanampetsotsa Reserve is at an elevation of 38 to 114 m and experiences temperaturesof up to 47 degrees C.
Range elevation: 38 to 114 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune
- Parks, D. 1996-2001. "Madagascar Biodiversity and Conservation" (On-line ). Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed 11/01/02 at http://ridgwaydb.mobot.org/mobot/madagascar/default.asp.
- Wozencraft, W. 1990. Alive and Well in Tsimanampetsotsa. Natural History, 12/90: 28-30.
Giant-striped mongooses eat invertebrates, especially giant hissing cockroaches and scorpions. However, due to the strong crushing teeth and massive skull, scientists suspect that the species also eats rodents and lizards. This species forages singly and in pairs.
Animal Foods: insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
Giant-striped mongooses act as a predator on invertebrates and is probably a prey species for the catlike fossa.
There are no documented predators of G. grandidieri. The only possible predator in its known range is the cat-like fossa, which is a member of the civet family. Because of the thorny vegetation found in the habitat of this species, avian predators are unlikely.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
There has been no documentation of the methods of communication used by giant-striped mongooses or of other mongooses of the genus Galidictis. These animals are known to produce odors, and females have well developed scent pouches. These presumably function in communication. Other mongooses have communication through body postures and through tactile interactions. It is likely that this species is similar. Vocalizations may also be used.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
There is currently no documented information about the lifespan or longevity of giant-striped mongooses.
Giant striped mongooses live in pairs and breed year round. The breeding system is apparently monogamous, although reproduction in this species has not yet been studied in depth.
Mating System: monogamous
Giant-striped mongooses breed year round and produces one offspring per year.
Although other details on the reproduction of G. grandidieri are lacking, other species of mongoose on Madagascar have gestation lengths of 72 to 92 days (Galidia elegans) and 90-105 days (Muncgotictis decemlineata). Both of these species produce a single young which weighs about 50 g at birth. Malagasy broad striped mongooses probably fall within this range of variation.
Although maturation in G. grandidieri has not been reported, in other species of Malagasy mongooses, physical maturity is attained between 1 and 2 years of age, and sexual maturity seems to occur around 2 years of age.
Breeding interval: Giant-striped mongooses breed annually.
Breeding season: This species apparently breeds year round.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
No specific studies have been conducted on the development of G. grandidieri, but it seems that it is similar to that of other members of the mongoose family. Mothers typically care for somewhat altricial young in a den or burrow of some sort, providing them with protection, grooming, and food in the form of milk. Because this species lives in monogamous pairs, it is likely that the father assists the mother in care of the young, although this has not been documented. Mongoose juveniles have been observed with their mothers during later stages of their development, but at what age they eventually break away from their mothers has not been documented in this species.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Wozencraft, W. 1990. Alive and Well in Tsimanampetsotsa. Natural History, 12/90: 28-30.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Endangered (EN)
- 2000Endangered (EN)
- 1996Endangered (EN)
- 1994Rare (R)
- 1990Insufficiently Known (K)
- 1988Insufficiently Known (K)
At this time, giant-striped mongooses have only been documented in the spiny desert of southwestern Madagascar. They appear to be generally abundant in that area, however with habitat loss that comes with increased development, and the extraction of wood from its habitat, the population size of the giant striped mongoose has begun to decline. There is still much research to be done on this species to determine size of the population and risk of extinction. For now, researchers will try to preserve as much of the spiny desert of southwestern Madagascar for the giant-striped mongoose and the other animals and plants endemic to that region.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered
Hunting of thisspeciesis presumed to have increased significantly, particularly in the western of the itsrange, since 2009 because ofreductions in governance and increased social instability following a coup d'etat, which has led to major increases in hunting of Radiated Tortoise Astrochelys radiataand other wildlife in the species'srange:"one of the most troubling trends is that poachers are now entering protected areas (Special Reserves, National Parks [including Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, the only protected area where Grandidier's Vontsira is found], World Heritage Sites) to collect tortoises and the staff there are poorly equipped to patrol and protect populations. The situation is exacerbated by several factors :
1) Years of extreme drought that have led to diminished agricultural production and increased poverty, which leads people to tortoise hunting [and hunting of other species] for survival;
2) Enforcement action is often days away so that local officials do not have the capacity to stop poachers;
3) Severe habitat degradation has made the spiny forest the most endangered forest type in Madagascar. After burning and clearing for agriculture invasive plant species take over and today thick stands of Opuntia (prickly pear) and sisal (agave) dominate the landscape;
4) Current political instability has resulted in an increased open access to natural resources and illegal pet trade" (Anonymous 2010).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There is no known documentation of the economic importance of G. grandidieri.
There is no known documentation of the economic importance of G. grandidieri. Because it lives in inaccessible habitat, it is unlikely to have any positive impact on human economies.
Grandidier's mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri), also known as the giant-striped mongoose or Grandidier's vontsira, is a small carnivoran that lives only in a very small area of southwestern Madagascar, in areas of spiny forest vegetation. It is a pale brown or grayish coloured mongoose, with eight wide, dark stripes on its back and sides. Grandidier's mongoose is larger than the related broad-striped Malagasy mongoose, G. fasciata, and its stripes are not as wide. The species is named after Alfred Grandidier.
This species has been called one of the rarest carnivorans in the world. With a few exceptions, the majority of records of G. grandidieri come from a narrow zone at the western edge of the Mahafaly Plateau in the Parc National de Tsimanampetsotsa, making it the Madagascan carnivore with the smallest range.
Nocturnal and crepuscular, this species lives in pairs which produce one offspring a year, in the summer. They hunt primarily by searching through ground litter and in rock crevices. The diet of Grandidier's mongoose varies markedly between the dry and wet seasons. Whereas food consists mainly of invertebrates throughout the year, small vertebrates are the most important food by biomass, comprising 58% during the dry season and 80% during the wet season. Grandidier's mongoose weighs 1.1 to 1.3 lb (500 to 600 g).
The species is sympatric with two other carnivores, the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and the introduced Indian civet (Viverricula indica). However, there seems to be virtually no range or dietary overlap between these animals and Grandidier's mongoose. From sub-fossil evidence, it is clear that the region underwent drastic climatic change during the last 3000-2000 years. It is presumed that the distribution of this mongoose was notably broader and the proportion of prey types different in earlier times than today. Grandidier's mongoose must have adapted to dryer conditions, which have resulted in its very limited distribution and the exploitation of notably small prey.
The animals can be vocal, with a cooing mew, and are described as sociable and playful.
- Hawkins, A.F.A. (2008). Galidictis grandidieri. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is endangered
- BBC, Island of Marvels, Part 3.
- R. Andriatsimietry et al. (2009): Seasonal variation in the diet of Galidictis grandidieri Wozencraft, 1986 (Carnivora: Eupleridae) in a sub-arid zone of extreme south-western Madagascar. Journal of Zoology 279 (4):410-415. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00633.x
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