As reported by News24: Harare
Carers at a wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe must wait 10 months or more to see if an adorable pair of rescued baby mongooses have TB.
Banded mongooses “Finley” and “Finch” were abandoned by their troop in Victoria Falls, Baye Pigors, the founder of the Free to be Wild Sanctuary told News24.
Efforts to reintroduce the pair to their family failed, so they were sent to the sanctuary that Pigors runs.
She and her co-workers must keep an eagle eye on their cheeky new charges: the six-week old brothers come from an area where tuberculosis is endemic in mongooses.
Because of that, the two are living in a quarantined environment.
Said Pigors: “The incubation period is a long time. Anything up to 10 months, maybe more. It’s a slow killing disease. We have to look for signs of weight loss, sneezing, ulcers on the nose.”
A mongoose TB “pandemic” has been recorded in a region spanning northern Botswana and north-western Zimbabwe. That includes the Victoria Falls area. It’s killed huge mongoose family groups, though humans can’t catch it from them, Pigors said.
In findings published earlier this month, the American Society for Microbiology reported on a new species of bacteria that causes TB and is transmitted through the skin and nose of the banded African mongoose.
Previously it had been thought that TB was primarily an airborne disease.
Pigors said: “The hope for these babies is mainly that they are disease free and survive to maturity.”
For now, the mongooses are feeding on eggs, chicken bone mash, milk and porridge.
“They have just started foraging and picking up little insects in the grass, but they are not too good at this yet,” Pigors said. Their diet will change as they grow older, likely including more insects and tubers.
Pigors has experience of raising mongooses at Free to Be Wild. “Moyo”, a previous mongoose rescue, was released last year.
This pair only arrived a few days ago, but already the boys are showing very distinct character traits.
Said Pigors: “Finch is a little bigger and a bit more cheeky than his brother, he gets a bit possessive if I am loving him and Finley comes in for a cuddle. They love to hug each other when they sleep.
“And they follow me everywhere even during my bathroom visits I have an audience.
“They love sleeping in the pocket of my jumpers,” she added.