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Abstract

This field study investigated helper behaviour in the care of the young in a small social carnivore, the dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula). The frequency with which individually marked mongooses, living in six packs, guarded young at the den (babysitting) and brought food to the young was recorded in all-day and morning watches. The principal helpers were the subordinate adult ♀♀ and the yearlings. In a pack of known kinship relationships, an immigrant ♀ did more babysitting than any of the other pack members, all of whom were related to the young. Possible advantages of the aid-giving behaviour to the helpers are discussed.