Meerkats in Africa
The meerkat or suricate …. is a mongoose
Meerkats live in the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is the only member of the genus Suricata – (Suricata suricatta) belongs to the mongoose family (Herpestidae).
The meerkat at a glance…. a few facts
- A ‘mob’, ‘clan’ or ‘gang’ is the collective term for a group of meerkats – A group generally consists of 20 meerkats although some meerkat families can have up to 50 members!
- in the wild meerkats live an average of 6 to 7 years
- average weight of 0.5 to 2.5 kg (1.1 to 5.5 lbs)
- body is long and slender reaching 35 to 50 cms (14-20 ins) extending a further 25 cms (9.8 ins) if you include the tail!
- coat is tan, gray, brown with touches of silver with parallel stripes to the back which run from the shoulders to the tail base – these stripe patterns are unique to the individual
- the tummy has fine sparse hair, this area is used in the absorption of heat when the meerkat is standing – particularly after a chilly desert night!
- Meerkat uses its tail for balance when standing up and for signalling
- they have binocular vision – both eyes are used together
- distinctive black patches around the eyes
- the black crescent ears are small claws are finger-like and used for digging for prey and burrowing, the rear claws are also used for tree climbin
- Meerkats have slender limbs
- Meerkats primarily eat insects but also enjoy a diet of snakes, scorpions, lizards, eggs, plants, millipedes, centipedes and some small mammals
- they tend to forage and search for food with one of their group on the look out for predators – they’ll take it in turns with a meerkat’s watch lasting for around an hour.
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