Meerkats

SPECIES: Suricata suricatta

These highly intelligent and energetic mammals are also very sociable. Meerkats have a complex social structure where each meerkat has a role to play within the mob. Meerkats have a leader and adults are found in pairs. Despite their tiny stature, meerkats can live around 8-12 years in the harsh wild, and even longer in the relative safety of captivity.

Diet

Omnivore; primarily insectivores but also reptiles, small mammals, birds, eggs, plants, fungi, root and bulbs. Preferring insects, meerkats will also eat roots and leaves and even prey on birds and reptiles.

Natural behavior

Diurnal living in home ranges. Group members will forage individually but visual and vocal contact is maintained at all times. One or more members will keep watch for predators and is known as a sentry. Meerkats take cover and sleep in burrows, which are sometimes excavated on their own but frequently use burrows of other animals

Description

Long slender body and tail, long front claws, coat is grey-tan-brown with parallel stripes and black patches around eyes

Distribution

Widespread in the Western parts Southern Africa

Reproduction

Year round breeding occurs with up to 2 liters per year. Usually only the alpha pair breed successfully. Meerkats are co-operative breeders and non-breeding adults will assist in the care of pups while they remain in the burrow for up to 3 weeks. Once mature, males will voluntarily disperse from the group to form news groups with unrelated females

Social structure

Meerkats are highly social; living in large family groups of up to 30. Each member of the group plays an important role in foraging, keeping watch and caring for offspring

Meerkat encounters can be booked at both Mogo Wildlife Park and Hunter Valley Wildlife Park, where you can experience a Meerkat's world first hand.

ANIMAL FACTS

Meerkats

GROUP NAME

Mobs

Native To

SIZE

25-35 cm with tails around 2/3 as long as they are tall

BABY NAME

Pup

Habitat

Arid, open country, characterised by short grasses and sparse woody growth. Absent from mountainous terrain, true desert and forested areas

Did You Know?

A Meerkat on watch duty is called a sentry and will remain at their post for over an hour at a time.
Meerkats are immune to snake venom thanks to being a part of the Mongoose family

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