A new study has shown that bullies are not just a problem for humans. Dwarf mongooses also hate them, according to a new study.  

Researchers at the University of Bristol discovered that animals can recall which members of their group have been involved in fights during the day, and then give them the ‘cold shoulders’ later in the night. 

The team was able to observe wild mongooses close-up, which allowed them to examine how wild animals deal with ‘within-group conflicts’, something that is crucial for human lives.

They simulated food contests between two group members in the afternoon by playing back sounds of aggression and watching how others responded.

The team found that even those not involved in the altercations were able to track aggressive behaviour and then act on it later. 

When they were back in the sleeping burrow at nights, those deemed to have been’squabbling’ received the cold shoulder from their groupmates. 

Dwarf mongooses are able to remember which groupmates picked fights with others during the day and give them the 'cold shoulder'

Dwarf monkeygooses are able remember which group members got into fights during the day and can give them the “cold shoulder”


The Angola, Zambia and East Africa are home for the dwarf mongoose. 

It has a large pointed skull, small ears, and a long tail. It also has short limbs.

They have soft fur, which can vary in colour from yellowish-red to very dark brown.

They are very small and can reach up to 11 inches.

They can be found in open forests, bushland, and dry grasslands, as well as areas with termite mounds. 

It is a highly social species, living in extended families of between two and thirty people with a strict hierarchy. 

Dr Amy Morris-Drake from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences is the lead author. She said that conflict management strategies were developed to ‘keep peace’ in multiple species.

They have been observed in humans, chimpanzees and ravens, as well as domestic dogs. 

The researcher stated that “our work shows that dwarf mongooses have enough cognitive ability to monitor vocal cues regarding aggressive interactions and to recall who the bullies were, refusing to groom them later.” 

Dwarf Mongoose are the smallest carnivores in Africa and have been extensively studied as part of a larger research project. 

Researchers individually marked the animals in a wild habitat with blonde hair dye to better understand their interactions with bullies and trained them how to balance on a scale to weigh themselves.

You can observe them from a distance of a few feet as they perform their natural behavior in ecologically sound conditions.

Researchers can now design experiments with the mongoose without having to take them from their natural habitat. This could lead to altered or unnatural results. 

Researchers created an experiment in which they mocked up a fight between two animals over food to determine how they deal with bullies and aggressors.

The victim and aggressor made sounds that were recorded by the team, which they played back to the group when there was no aggression.

The rest of their group heard what sounded to be repeated squabbles among the innocent couple, making them believe one was being bullied.

Observing wild mongooses up close allowed experts from the University of Bristol to watch their interactions, and test ideas around their behaviour in natural conditions

Researchers from the University of Bristol observed wild mongooses in their natural habitat. This allowed them to test their behavior and provide insight into their behavior. 

They also recorded all the grooming performed by individuals with their groupmates at the night’s sleeping burrow.  

Prof Andy Radford, a senior author, said that grooming can help with hygiene and anxiety.

They gave more grooming to the victim of the bullying when they made the sound squabbling. 

The bully was ignored by the victims when they returned to the burrow, and the bully was groomed significantly less than on a normal occasion. 

The team wanted to explore how wild animals manage 'within-group conflict,' something that is a key feature of human lives, and that of other social animals

The team wanted a look at how wild animals handle ‘within group conflict’ which is a key feature of human life and that of other social animal.

Dr Morris-Drake explained that this shows that dwarf mongooses monitor conflict among their group members. 

“They can identify bullies from their vocalisations during disputes, store this information, and implement a delayed dispute-management strategy. This would include giving the bully the cold shoulder prior to bedtime.

These findings will help researchers understand how animals deal with past conflicts between groupmates. 

The journal eLife published the findings. 

Mongooses live in a “fairer society” because their mothers can’t tell which puppies are theirs. Researchers say that they are forced to help the most vulnerable members of the group. 

Researchers claim that mongooses have evolved into an ‘easier society’ because mothers are unable to tell which pups they own. This has forced them to help the ‘neediest’ instead.

They claim that a veil of ignorance is created when groups of banded monkeyse give birth the same night and don’t know which offspring they are.

This means that they can’t give them extra care, but instead take care of the smallest pups in their community.

Dr Harry Marshall of the University of Roehampton said that parents favor their children in most of the natural world. He also led the study with Exeter University.

“However in banded monkeys, the evolution of remarkable synchrony in birth has led to an unusual situation in which mothers don’t know which pups belong to them and so cannot choose to provide extra care.

“Our study shows ignorance leads to a fairr allocation of resources – in other words, a fairer community.”   

Half of the wild mongoose mother groups that were pregnant in the study were regularly fed extra food.

This resulted in increased inequalities in the birth weights of pups.

After giving birth, well-fed mothers cared more for the small pups born to unfed mothers than they did their own pups. This resulted in These differences quickly disappear.