Help us ID Mammals from Uganda: a couple mongooses, a couple of genets, 2 mice, a gerbil and a squirrel

Hi everyone!

Alex Meyer and I have just recently visited Uganda, and saw lots of cool and interesting mammals – but before I can put together a full report, we would like to get everyone’s help with identifying some mammals.

Any input will be appreciated! Please see attached PDF below:




  • Luke Hunter

    I think both your mongooses are dark-morph white-tailed mg. Number 1 is unusual but i think might be recovering from sarcoptic mange (or similar); the tail and hindquarters have the distinctive look of re-growing fur after infection.

    ‘Normal’ genet is rusty-spotted. Melanistic one probably is also, but hard to say.

  • Peter Apps

    Depending on size Pousargue’s mongoose might fit:

  • Charles Foley

    Hi Tomer,

    I agree with Luke about the mongooses both being dark-north white-tailed, and the genets being maculata. Just to add that Luke is a renowned African carnivore expert, so it’s an easy decision to concur with!

    I also agree that the rat running on the tree branch is a Link rat. That’s a really good species to see, so well done with that sighting. The gerbil is one of the Gerbilliscus, although not leucogaster. It’s probably G. kempi or validus. If I was to have to bet my life (or better yet your life) on choosing one, I would go for kempi, as the tail looks longer than the body, but don’t hold me to that. As for the little mouse in the bush, you’re on your own with that one. Next time grab it!

    And the squirrel… bloody African squirrels; I’m convinced they’ve been put on earth just to taunt mammal watchers. The tail is quite red, but it’s dark body and the fact that there are no striations on the tail would make me lean towards another Carruther’s.

    I look forward to seeing your trip write-up.


  • tomeslice

    Thanks guys!

    I totally believe the mongooses are all white-tailed, even though I would have liked for them to be something else..
    Of course we considered Pousargues because of the location, but the face looked nothing like it. We almost thought the face looked like Sokoke Dog Mongoose but of course that one is only in the Sokoke forest, which is 100s of km away.

    I also thought all the genets we saw were blotched/rusty-spotted except one small spotted in Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.

    @tembo10 Charles why don’t you think it’s bushveld? Kempi looks much darker from the 1 picture I could find on google.. But I do have another few photos, all of them blurry – but one in which you can see the tail is clearly longer than the body..

    I also do think the mouse is gray climbing mouse but I’ll look more into it

    I’m working on my report, because I want to include as much info for future mammal watchers as I can.. but I think we will end up with well over 70 species which is quite awesome for 2 weeks!! 🙂

    • Charles Foley

      The Bushveld gerbil, G. leucogaster, isn’t found in that part of the world. If one of your blurry photos shows the tail – particularly the tip, why don’t you email it to me and I can have another look.

      • tomeslice

        Will do Charles!

        Ah, you’re right! Just checked out IUCN and confirmed that bushveld indeed occurs far from this area.
        Ok then I guess you’re right. I emailed you the 2 extra photos.
        Thanks again!! 😀

  • Jon Hall

    Looking forward to your report Tomer – and so great to see such rapid expert help on your questions!

    • tomeslice


      The rapid responses are very encouraging.
      I’m working on it – hoping to have it done within a couple of weeks (as much as work, family and my fiance will let me get to it ;-P )


  • Venkat Sankar

    Mostly just agreeing with others at this point, but for what it’s worth:
    1,2) Dark-phase White-tailed Mongoose. This color morph seems more common than the “normal” animals in the Sudanian savanna region.
    3) As Charles says, I also reckon kempi as the tail looks longer than the HB. No real way to eliminate validus though completely from the photos.
    4) Deomys. The rich chestnut fur, large-ish ears, and long tail leave me almost certain on this one. A little weird to have it 2m above ground as I understand they’re typically terrestrial, but it seems they can climb well when needed. A great sighting – though based on capture records, they seem abundant in some of the Ugandan forest blocks.
    No idea about the QENP mouse. I don’t see the black dorsal stripe, which should be really obvious in Dendromus melanotis (not just a darker area). There are a ton of possible rodents in this area and this one is not super distinctive, so you’d want it in the hand…
    5,6) definitely Blotched Genet
    7) I wonder if you Ruhija squirrel (#1) is Heliosciurus ruwenzorii. The skull looks a little heavier than in Funisciurus and (it could be an artifact of the backlit image) but I can almost make out faint banding in the (differently structured) tail. #2 is definitely Funisciurus carruthersi.
    8) I’m not sure what the squirrel with the thin tail is, maybe Funisciurus as Charles says. Your last photo is 100% Heliosciurus ruwezorii to me.


    Can’t see the photos well on my phone, and looks like everything’s been solved already, except for the mouse that I think could be one of dwarf Mus species (the taxonomy is changing all the time). Was it really tiny and tame?
    G. kempi is very common in much of Uganda, it even occurs in Entebbe.
    Indeed, link rat is supposed to be completely terrestrial. Perhaps worth publishing a short note in some local zoological journal (but first check the literature to make sure it’s as unusual as I think it is). I don’t remember if there’s anything else there with this color pattern, but I can email you good close-ups of link rat for reference if you’d like.

  • tomeslice

    Thanks everyone!

    I agree with everyone’s assessments – but I still think it might be gray climbing mouse.
    The thing is, if you look at the pictures, it’s facing about 10 degrees towards us (from 0 being complete profile) and its back is almost totally obscured by the leaves. But I do see that dark area which would be (half of) the dorsal stripe, but just from the side – it looks quite distinct. This is why I was leaning toward this species to begin with. I have a video of it, it’s about 30-40 seconds long, I can upload it and maybe it will give everyone a better view. Though my camera is TERRIBLE at auto-focus at night. I will for sure use manual focus from now on (damn Nikon! lol). This actually cost me a few good shots and videos.

    Back to the mouse – it wasn’t super tiny – it was “regular mouse sized” – a few cm long, but I can’t tell the exact size as I didn’t put a caliper to it. Which other species would you guys suggest? I’ll just look at all of them, and compare them to the way-too-many pictures and a video we took of the mouse…

    Re: Link Rat – it was actually close to the ground when we saw it, probably only a few cm off it, on a tiny branch. Since we all flashed our lights at it as Alex tried to grab a picture, it may have gotten a little distressed which is why it climbed up the tree. I also might be overestimating the height – but clearly it was higher than eye-level, as we photographed it from slightly below.

    After having seen all “tree things” the previous night, I decided to aim my thermal scope to ground level early this morning, in search of duikers, river hogs etc. so it was definitely low-ish to the ground when we saw it. But not actually ON the ground. It was the only one of I think 3 rodents we saw that morning, that we actually got a picture of.

    Thanks again everyone!


    If you find a dwarf mouse you don’t need calipers, it’s only slightly larger than a ping pong ball.

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