Meerkat

ANIMAL:
Meerkat        Suricata suricatta

Type of Animal:
Mongoose

Habitat:
Desert, grassland, semi-desert, plains, scrub, savanna

Location(s):
Kalahari Desert & surrounding areas

Appearance:
Very comical look, yellowish-brownish with grayish belly, long nose & big eyes, claws for digging. Parallel stripes on back unique to each individual.

Food/Diet:
Worms, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions, beetles, millipedes, centipedes, ant larvae, grubs, termites, snails, lizards, snakes including venomous species, birds, rodents, small tortoises, eggs, fruit, tubers, bulbs, roots, honey

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos

Lifestyle:
Packs consist of alpha pair, 4-6 litters of offspring (each w/ 4-7 pups. some older pups acting as subordinate females if daughters & subordinate males if sons), & often, mature subordinate females (older daughters & sisters of alpha female) & mature subordinate males (older brothers & sons of alpha male). Some subordinates completely unrelated individuals. Males leave before females. Some packs have multiple breeding adults. Alpha female most dominant pack member. Subordinate males breed more often than subordinate females. 

Additional Info:

Called:
Male
Female
Young-Pup
Group-Pack/Mob

Weight:
Adult-1.6 lbs
Young-5.44 oz

Gestation:
3 months

Height:
1 ft

Body Length:
0.8-1.1 ft

Life Span:
10-12 years in wild, up to 15 years in captivity

Tail Length:
0.6-0.8 ft

Main predators are jackals, caracals, servals, black-footed cats, wildcats, domestic cats, honey badgers, raptors, pythons, & venomous snakes. In case of venomous snakes, meerkats fight to death with snake: if snake dies, then snake gets eaten; if meerkat dies, then meerkat gets eaten. Often, whole pack will mob venomous snakes & other predators.

Packs very territorial & if other pack seen near/on territory, deadly, pitched battles occur.

Most of time, 1 or 2 meerkats stand on sentry duty, keeping watch for predators/rival packs.

Tail used for balance & as signal to others.

Very good diggers.

Meerkats have great sense of smell.

Dark rings around eyes reduce glare.

Underground burrows have up to 20 different entrances & exits.

Fun Fact(s):
Often kept as pet in southern Africa due to habit of killing rodents & invertebrates.

Burrows often shared w/ yellow mongooses & ground squirrels.

Very rarely need to drink, water obtained from plant material they eat.

Timon from The Lion King was a meerkat.

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