Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Range South Africa
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Herpestidae
Genus Suricata
Species S. suricatta
Conservation Status
Least Concern

The Meerkat' is a small mammal that lives in South Africa around the Kalahari Desert. Meerkats live in group of 2-50 member called Groups,Mobs or gangs. They can live to be 10 year in the wild and in to their upper teens in capivity. They are a part of the mongoose family.

Standing Posture[]

Squirrel-sized meerkats are mongooses famed for their upright posture. They often stand on their rear legs and gaze alertly over the southern African plains where they live. Mothers can even nurse their young while standing.

Cooperative Behavior[]

Meerkats (also called suricates) work together in numbers. A few will typically serve as lookouts, watching the skies for birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles, that can snatch them from the ground. A sharp, shrill call is the signal for all to take cover. While a few individuals guard the group, the rest busy themselves foraging for the foods that make up their varied diet. Meerkats will eat insects, lizards, birds, and fruit. When hunting small game, they work together and communicate with purring sounds. Meerkats are good hunters and are sometimes tamed for use as rodent-catchers.

Burrow Life[]

Meerkat groups utilize several different burrows and move from one to another. Each burrow is an extensive tunnel-and-room system that remains cool even under the broiling African sun. Females give birth to two to four young each year in one of the group's burrows. Fathers and siblings help to raise meerkat young, teaching them to play and forage and alerting them to the ever present danger from above. Young meerkats are so fearful of predatory birds that even airplanes will send them diving for cover.

Habitat & Diet[]

Many adaptations help meerkats live in their arid, dusty environment in southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert. Dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the sun’s glare, and long, horizontal pupils give meerkats a wide range of vision. Meerkats are built for digging and have a special membrane that can cover the eye to protect it while burrowing. These small diggers also have ears that close to keep out the sand while at work. In addition, meerkats have four toes (most mongoose species have five) on each foot and very long, nonretractable claws to help them dig.

No prey is safe from meerkats! With their excellent sense of smell, they can even find their food when it is hiding underground. Meerkats can dig very quickly to find insects (the biggest part of their diet), spiders, snails, rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, and scorpions. They have a home territory of about 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) or more and hunt in a different section each day, returning to the first area after a week. Each meerkat must find its own food, but they may share the task of capturing and eating a large lizard or other large food item. At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the meerkats are fed a ground meat diet made especially for zoo carnivores, cat kibble, mealworms, crickets, and small amounts of produce.


Fortunately for meerkats, they seem to be doing all right in the wild at this time. Yet movies and television shows have brought meerkats lots of attention, with many people wondering if they can have a meerkat as a pet. Although they may look cute, meerkats—like all wild animals—do not make good pets, and are illegal to own without the proper permits and licenses. Instead, head to your local zoo to enjoy these small creatures in action. They’ll be scanning the skies and watching for you!