“Mongoose: Sentry and Subtlety” (5/1/2021)
Outside of my writings regarding figuring out my mongoose theriotype as such, I haven’t really written much about it; for whatever reason, the words just never really came to me to make another writing about being mongoose. As with my other therio-/’kintypes, I haven’t felt those aspects of me much over the course of several years and I’m only relatively recently starting to feel more like them again, including mental shifts to whatever extent, more body-oriented thought, and phantom parts. Admittedly, the ‘type I’ve been seemingly feeling the least in the past few months is mongoose. So I’ve wondered why that is and it’s brought me back to a concept I wrote about in an essay years ago about my theriotypes basically being “fragmented” versions of the animals they are–I only experience aspects of them, often times under certain kinds of circumstances or in response to certain stimuli, but still enough of each animal being within me that I could identify (over time and introspection) what the given animal is and get a fairly clear sense of what they are like in various ways. Well, I think maybe mongoose has remained so reduced because I haven’t been much in those situations that would tend to make me feel and shift toward mongoose.
Mongoose tends to be for me more tied to things like standing on the balls of my feet, heels-raised, fluffing up neck and chest fur when cold, having my arms hanging down, sometimes in pockets, at a minor angle like when a meerkat is on it’s toes. It’s also tied to socially-anxious behaviors for me–being like a sentry, on alert as it watches and listens for any potential perceived threat. For one, I haven’t taken to walking and standing on the balls of my feet for years–for whatever reason I eventually stopped doing it around 30 years old, which I kind of miss, but anymore probably would be bad to do it because I have a chronic dysfunction in the tendons of both my feet that hold up the arches, so I’m afraid standing or walking much like that could result in pain & possibly inflammation in those tendons. Because of that, it just doesn’t come to my mind to walk or stand that way anymore and I’m so accustomed at this point to walking and standing more typically ‘human’. My body is also prone anymore to being heat intolerant and feeling hot at even lower temperatures that most people would find cold, so a lot of times even in the winter I don’t spend enough time in cold enough temperatures that my mind starts to feel like fluffing up fur (or feathers, as I also get).
When it comes to the social anxiety-related behaviors, because of my current and long-term unemployment, I generally only go out in public once or twice a week, mainly to do shopping, and most of the time I’m with my mate, so having someone else with me tends to help lower the social anxiety or lessen the automatic socially anxious behaviors I would be apt to do. Yet even when I’m out in public by myself, usually shopping or at a doctor’s appointment, my mind has adjusted over time to those things and gradually reduced my anxiety and anxious behaviors regarding them. My social anxiety is still there, just seemingly to a lesser extent in those more regular public situations I am exposed to. I tend to feel less like I need to be as heavily “on alert” like I used to be in public, though whenever I do get a job, depending on the type of job it is, it may put me back into that ‘alert’ state more again. From what I do remember of those times in the past of mongoose being prominent, I felt mentally, behaviorally, and phantomly like some kinds of mongooses, especially meerkats and yellow mongooses, standing alertly on hindlegs, forepaws hanging in front of torso, eyes and ears keenly attuned to possible dangers, being prone to focusing on holding still in the hopes of reducing being noticed by a potential threat.
Maybe I’m just not as “shifty” to mongoose during those public times, but that perhaps it’s still there, more blended with my mind’s state when I’m in lower-anxiety social situations outside of my home. In a sense, it could be like a mongoose that has learned and adjusted over time (been conditioned) to certain situations that aren’t harmful, that don’t reinforce anxiety and hyper-alertness, but instead reinforce a calmer, less alert state, along with feeling more ‘tame’ overall. The more noticeable mongoose and social anxiety ‘instincts’ of mine have taken more of a backseat in the social situations I mainly experience anymore. If social situations do happen to occur that would reinforce anxiety and hyper-alertness, I’m curious to see if I will feel/experience mongoose noticeably during those times. For now, horse embodies most of my anxiety and, if anything, perhaps overrides mongoose during anxious times. I do, however, still feel like mongoose–it’s just typically in what feels like a reduced or perhaps behind-a-haze kind of way, but I can still feel that mongoose head bobbing and darting, ears pricking, eyes widening in alertness and/or curiosity. It’s there, just more subtle than it used to be.
I’ve never actually been able to pin down a specific species for my mongoose theriotype, though I have mainly used for myself yellow mongoose (cynictis, for short) and ring-tailed vontsira (an euplerid of Madagascar rather than actually a mongoose-proper, but body-form is very similar to mongoose–they’ve even been called ring-tailed mongooses because of their similarity; euplerids are still notably related to herpestidae mongooses). However, even with those two, they never felt quite “right”. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much information on most types of mongooses, including cynictis–which for a social mongoose, it’s not well-studied. Meerkats seem to be the most thoroughly studied, and while I feel I have multiple traits of them, they aren’t a right fit. Most of the solitary mongooses are even more poorly studied. So a lot of what I have to go off of for comparison to real mongooses is body-oriented (form and appearance), basic social life, and behaviors that have actually been captured in photos or video (not much for, again, most mongoose species).
Body and Form:
The body base is most similar to cynictis–head, main body, and feet (including five digits on the front and four on the hind, which is unique to cynictis among extant mongooses). Feet are digitigrade, unlike the plantigrade kind of most mongoose species. Head of ring-tailed vontsira and slender mongoose are also kind of similar, but not quite right. Cynictis ears, however, aren’t right–RT vontsira has the right shape for ears and a minor ability to twitch and wiggle them (which I happened across in a video of one–something I couldn’t previously tell from photos alone). Tail is like that of slender mongoose–moderately thin with a bit of ‘bristle’ at the end, instead of being bushier like cynictis or white-tailed mongoose, or too short of fur like a meerkat. Legs are more similar in length to meerkats, relatively long for a mongoose. Fur is, I think, ticked (I remain unsure of that) of an unknown color, though my mind tends toward being drawn to a reddish fur color like vontsira or a dark reddish brown like dwarf mongoose, with a white or cream accent on the underside and maybe some on the inner sides of legs, which I admit could be influence from my tendency to see my domestic cat ‘type as having reddish fur. I’ve depicted my mongoose-cat-like creature, the solkatta, as being a mix of my four theriotypes, using yellow mongoose as the base for it, reference-wise. Solkatta is one I prefer to depict with dark reddish-brown fur with cream underside accents, though I’ve also depicted it with rusty-red and cream fur (less of a preference for that). Nose color would be a dark color rather than the pinkish kind that some species of mongooses have. Physical sex I only get the indication of something more ‘neutral’, possibly because there’s rather little to no sexual dimorphism in most (if not all) mongoose species.
Behavior and Social Life:
My mongoose ‘type is a social mongoose, I think tending toward a relatively small family group, rather than a large family group or being solitary. Most social mongooses seem to have rather variable sizes of families they stay in–from less than ten to a few dozen. Vocalizations I haven’t been able to pin to a particular species since I don’t know what most mongoose species even sound like, but I don’t think mine would be as quiet as the rarely-vocal cynictis, nor as vocal as meerkats (which vocalize a lot, since it’s a primary form of communication for them). However, the vocalizations I think are associated with my mongoose ‘type are things like squeaks, shrills, trills, and some other sounds I don’t know what to call them. Some mongooses live a notable amount in trees, but mine would be the ground-dwelling type (though I’m unsure if it would be the kind to live in burrows, and if those would be self-made burrows or ones made by some other animals). Head-bobbing is a prominent mongoose behavior of mine–whether doing it out of curiosity, food searching, or some other reason.
Another notable behavior is hindleg standing with forelegs relaxed and draped over front of abdomen–not sure if it would be to the frequency of meerkats or not, but it would be a common behavior, I feel (cynictis do it a lot in photos of them, but I don’t know how common it is for them to actually do that behavior, day to day). I’m also very much a forager of food, and seemingly some other things (shopping used to put me in a mongoose foraging mode a lot of times, regardless of whether shopping for food or not). While on my current weightloss diet, however, I don’t really get to do much foraging–instead I only eat about four, often planned, meals a day, so I don’t feel particularly like I’m foraging for it anymore. Though I also very much like to cache food (and money)–saving things I find ‘valuable’ or otherwise rare-to-get and coming back to them later or little by little to make them last longer. I haven’t yet found that mongooses (any species) do caching since they mainly forage for food from day to day and don’t save any of it for later except to feed babies. This caching thing I haven’t actually been able to feel comfortable aligning to any of my theriotypes so far, though I think the closest might be my theropod ‘type.
Overall, I’m apt to think that my mongoose ‘type is either one that is extinct or it never existed. However, I don’t view it as a cladotherianthropic experience because I don’t identify with an entire (known) clade of mongooses and not to the herpestidae clade of all mongooses-proper. Plus part of it bleeds over into a very mongoose-like euplerid, the ring-tailed vontsira, which makes it even fuzzier of an exact species-specific experience and identity. Extinct species-wise, it may have been an ancestor of cynictis, meerkats, euplerids, or other similar-in-body species. Perhaps, if an extinct species, it may have been one that was relatively newly (evolution-wise) a social mongoose, hence the smaller family groups (probably under ten individuals, I’m guessing), but such smaller groups aren’t unheard of even in the extant social mongooses, they just tend to function better in survival with larger numbers, if they don’t end up splintering off into multiple groups. Ultimately, I view my therianthropy as primarily psychological and not at all reincarnation-based, so I’m not really going to worry about trying to find a specific species that fits my mongoose theriotype because such may have never existed, and that’s completely fine. But I do honestly enjoy introspecting on this sometimes just to see what does and does not fit my particular theriotypes. Also, I would love to eventually do a depiction specifically of my mongoose theriotype in my artwork, but I don’t know when that will happen. For now I just have the above description, which doesn’t suffice for the majority of people who’d read this, as most people don’t know what these different mongooses look like and would have to look up each one, so it’s more for myself and to share this with others, whether they can understand it or not.