A Day in The Life of Friendly Mongooses with Their Warthog Neighbors

Like humans, the animal kingdom also has communities built through relationships. Each species are friendly neighbors, unless they are predator and prey. Animals that are harmless to others can live in the same habitat and create a healthy environment. A community is beneficial for those species, especially when mutualism exists between them. The neighboring animal gets benefits, and the other one gains something as well. Examples of animals that work together are coral and algae, ants and aphids, clownfish and anemones, and more.

Photo: Youtube/BBC Earth

It’s interesting to know how animals need each other to survive, while others would be fine without each other but are better together. There are two types of mutualism, which are called obligate mutualism and facultative mutualism. Obligate mutualism is when two animals are dependent on one another’s existence. Whereas facultative mutualism is an interaction both animals need but still can survive without. An example of that is warthogs and mongooses. They do have a symbiotic relationship, and it’s to make their daily lives a lot easier. Their survival does not depend on one another, but they gain benefits in other ways.

Photo: Youtube/BBC Earth

Mutualism happens between warthogs and mongooses due to the services they receive whenever they’re around each other. Warthogs carry parasites and ticks on their fur, which are tasty treats for a mongoose. They welcome the warthog, and then, as soon as it lays down, groups of mongooses run to its side and start picking up free food. The setup is certainly convenient — instead of hunting independently, they wait for a warthog. In exchange for their lunch and dinner, they provide grooming for the warthogs and get rid of their parasites. The warthogs get free cleaning and spa time, which is certainly a good idea after a long day.

A warthog would usually be surrounded by fifteen to twenty mongooses, including young ones. They’re like children waiting for their parents to give them treats from their trip. Furthermore, mongoose pups are also taught how to pick ticks and parasites by their parents. The parents would show them how to do it, which includes knowing when to stop and retreat. Sometimes the warthog allows mongooses to stay for a long time, but there are instances when they just suddenly get up. A mongoose should be on alert, especially when the warthog becomes sensitive and has the tendency to shove them away.

Photo: Youtube/BBC Earth

According to researchers, mutualism between mammals is rare. One existing relationship similar to mongoose and warthogs are oxpeckers and large mammals. Other cases involve primates, such as a red-tailed monkey grooming a chimpanzee. The mongoose and the warthog are the next best examples of mammals benefiting from one another. Mutualism surely is a beautiful thing that makes the animal kingdom even more fascinating. Just by observing their relationships, people get a sneak peek into an animal’s daily life. BBC Earth has shared a video of how things go between warthogs and a group of mongooses. You can also see a mongoose pup having its first warthog grooming experience guided by its father. Watch the video below.

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