Of the approximately 30 species of mongoose that exist, there are two which are sometimes referred to as the Indian mongoose: the Indian gray mongoose and the small Indian mongoose. Both species are opportunistic hunters and have some eating habits in common, but they also vary somewhat in their diets. They're diurnal animals, so both do their hunting during the day.
Mongooses are well-known for fighting and killing snakes to eat, and Indian mongooses are no exception. Both Indian gray mongooses and small Indian mongooses will occasionally hunt snakes, even poisonous varieties such as cobras and pit vipers. They're thought to be immune to the bite and venom of poisonous snakes, probably due to their thick coat. They use their great stamina to overpower the snake, killing it by biting it in the back of the head, then eating it from the head down.
Although small Indian mongooses are omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods, insects make up the majority of their diet. Indian gray mongooses also eat insects and other invertebrates, but these make up a smaller portion of their diet. The types of insects and invertebrates they prey on include grasshoppers, beetles, scorpions and centipedes.
Both types of Indian mongoose eat a wide range of mammals. They've been known to go for mammals much bigger than they are, such as hare and even small deer. However, they mostly hunt for smaller mammals, such as mice and rats, which are easier targets. Small Indian mongooses are even happy to devour any mammal remains, or carrion, they happen to come across.
Both Indian gray and small Indian mongooses commonly eat ground birds and their eggs. Indian gray mongooses have been spotted hunting sizable birds, such as cattle egrets. Both species will also go for any amphibians, lizards and any fish, mollusks or crustaceans they come across. They also eat some plant matter. Both will forage on seeds, nuts, grains and fruits. Additionally, Indian gray mongooses will eat tubers and roots.