Can You Own A Pet Mongoose?

Do mongooses make good pets? No, I bet you will find much better species if you do your research. However, some people want to own a pet mongoose nonetheless and it can be possible under the right circumstances. But I don’t want to encourage anyone in getting one of these fierce predators.

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Hunting mongoose

A mongoose looks cute and is relatively small. That shouldn’t delude somebody, they are aggressive little predators. While many are just interested in having such a lively pet that belongs to the weasel family and is closely related to minks as well, others want to own a predator to get rid of pests.

Later on, you will read more about whether a mongoose that is known to go after venomous snakes brutally is good for controlling pests or not. I will also mention a good alternative if you are just interested in an active and playful animal.

Is It Legal To Own A Mongoose In The US?

The answer to this question depends. While some subspecies of mongoose are prohibited, this is not true for all members of the family. 

If you can legally own a pet mongoose also comes down to the state or county you live in. States like California are very strict when it comes to exotic pets while other states within the US don’t care at all. In Florida, you would need a special permit, must be over 16 years old and show that you have enough knowledge and experience to care for your pet.

To be on the safe side, you should contact your local administration as rules can differ even between cities.

The reason why mongooses are often banned is that they are an invasive species that can harm the local environment in a disastrous way. More on that later.

Mongooses Are Smelly

A big disadvantage that comes with all pets that have strong scent glands is that they smell at least not very good. It’s not that a mongoose smells as bad as skunks or anteaters which use their glands to clear potential predators out. But having one in your flat or apartment all the time wouldn’t be much fun either.

It’s definitely a thing you can deal with if you really want. But it should be considered. How important it’s for your decision mainly depends on your living situation.

Are Mongooses Dangerous?

Mongoose looking dangerous on piece of wood

Mongooses are aggressive predators but they won’t bite a human to death for sure, wouldn’t they?

Of course, the prey of mongooses is small mammals like squirrels, rabbits and mice as well as fish, amphibians and reptiles. They are not like cougars or honey badgers though.

Additionally, mongooses are easy to tame, especially if they were raised by humans when they are still babies. They usually like human companionship, can be affectionate and playful.

That being said, they might bite when they feel threatened or provoked. The bite is painful but that’s it. The problem is that the animals can carry rabies and other pathogens. I will come to that later on.

Mongooses Aren’t Domesticated

Of course, mongooses aren’t domesticated like cats and dogs, but what does this actually mean? As I mentioned above, mongooses can be tamed very well. But domestication means something very different.

Domestication needs many generations to take place. Breeders change the behavior and characteristics of animals to suit our needs through selective breeding.

While humans and mongooses live together in India for many years this process certainly didn’t take place. That said, the people there use the animals for snake control and to go after other animals that are considered pests. But living together with an animal and domestication are two different things.

Medical Concerns With Keeping Pet Mongooses

You should definitely consider medical concerns with keeping pet mongooses. While an attack of the animal doesn’t end fatal for humans, the diseases they carry can.

An elderly woman died a few days after she was bitten by a mongoose that carried rabies. Another pathogen that these animals can transfer is leptospirosis.

They Are Very Active Animals

Curious mongoose on red sand

Like sables, mongooses are very active animals that have a lot of energy. You can’t just put them in an enclosure or your home all day. You would have to take them for a walk regularly just like you would do it with a dog.

So if you think these pets are quite low maintenance, you are on the wrong end. A dog definitely makes less work than a mongoose.

Mongooses Need A Special Diet

Mongooses are hunters which need a complicated diet. You can’t just go into a pet shop to buy “balanced mongoose food”. 

As omnivores who eat mainly meat, they won’t refuse fruits and some veggies from time to time. But you need to bring them their favorite prey most of the time. What prey that is, depends on the single individual. But most like small to medium-sized mammals as well as some fish and snakes.

To stay mentally healthy and happy mongooses need to hunt for themselves from time to time. That means that you would need to take it to a place where it can safely go after a rabbit or something else. The most important part here is that you ensure that your pet can’t escape and comes back to you after it has finished.

Watch how the predators hunt snakes in the video below.

Mongooses Are A Thread To Your Local Environment

In America, mongooses are an invasive species that does a lot of harm to local species. The most important part is that you make sure your pet doesn’t escape into the wild. Even a dwarf mongoose can have a disastrous impact.

In Puerto Rico for example, mongooses cause damage of over $50 million for the local poultry industry. A single animal can kill seemingly endless prey in a short period of time. This is because their instinct to kill is so strong that they do it just because they like to do it. Sometimes they don’t take a single bite from an animal they have killed.

In Jamaica, the extinction of two bird species is assigned to mongooses. The problem is that in the 18th-century farmers imported the animals to get rid of rats. It was a big failure as rats are nocturnal and therefore weren’t hunted by the mongooses. Instead, the predators went after birds, amphibians and reptiles causing huge damage to nature.

You Can’t Easily Buy A Pet Mongoose

You can’t just walk into your local pet store and look for mongoose for sale. These animals are way too exotic for normal stores. Additionally, it’s illegal to import them into the US which makes finding one to purchase a lot more difficult.

If you look for a breeder who is selling cute baby mongooses you will soon see how expensive they are. 2500$ and more for a single pet is not uncommon.

Alternative: Ferrets

If you are sure that you want a pet mongoose I would try to convince you, that these animals are not the right choice. Instead, you should opt for a ferret that looks the same and are very similar in character and behavior.

The pros are obvious, they are completely domesticated which eliminates a lot of the negative points of owning a pet mongoose. If you want to start your research about ferrets I recommend starting with this article. You will soon get an impression of whether this pet could be the right one for you or not.