The work of a dwarf mongoose research assistant does not vary all that much and can be summed up in one word: habituation. A few more details would include GPS tracking, weighing, sound recordings and behavioural observations.
However, there are often times when you can’t do these because sometimes the mongoose do nothing (yes that could be a behavioural observation, but it’s not the type we’re specifically on the lookout for). Maybe the mongoose are having a lie-in, or even not moving from the refuge all day (very lazy but it does happen occasionally).
What’s a research assistant to do then? Staring into space isn’t really an option – it gets boring very quickly and your brain turns to mush.
Personally, I am in love with my Kindle. Before I used one, I was a solid believer in proper books. I love browsing the shelves for a new title, the different smells they have, how they look on my bookshelf (well not my current bookshelves because they’re absolutely jampacked in there and it’s a mess, but anyway), and the weight of a book in my hands. Yes, I will admit right here and now, I am a confirmed bookworm.
However, when travelling and doing fieldwork, a Kindle is the choice for me. I won’t lie, I am a pretty fast reader so lugging all the books I would read during my time out here would not feasible. I’ve been here 3 months and I’m not far off the 100 books mark. Plus, it can also hold PDFs so I even read journal articles and theses.
Barcode reading a journal article on Kindle – waiting for dwarf mongoose to get up
My other time filler is writing in a journal. I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he replied “What, a real handwritten journal?” Yes, a real handwritten one (kind of difficult to do an electronic one!). I think it will be nice to read back in the future and have this written reminder of the day-to-day moments that might otherwise blur into a general memory.
Until I finished the book, I used to do SuDoku puzzles in the morning to wake myself – even timing myself to see if I improved (I did). My replacement for this is to practice French plaiting my hair, something I’ve always had difficulty with but I think my skill in this is improving.
French plaiting my ponytail, not bad for only my second attempt!
So there you go, an insight into the life of a dwarf mongoose research assistant. Fascinating stuff I’m sure.