Behavior and diet
The meerkat, or suricate, is a warm-blooded animal belonging to the same scientific family as the mongoose. Meerkats live in underground burrows which consist of entrance holes, tunnels and sleeping chambers. Meerkats are social animals that live in colonies of 20-40 members. Meerkats are often seen sitting erect on their hind legs, with a few of the meerkats acting as sentries for the group. Diurnal animals, meerkats are omnivores that eat a wide variety of foods, such as fruits and grasses as well as animals like lizards, scorpions, snakes, insects and rodents. Female meerkats have a gestation period of 11 weeks and have between one and five young in their litter. Normally, only the alpha pair will reproduce and may even kill young that are not their own.
Did you know?
- • A group of meerkats is called a mob, gang or clan
- • Baby meerkats are called pups
- • Meerkats are impervious to toxins such as scorpion and snake venom
- • Meerkats have black skin that absorbs heat while sunbathing
- • Meerkats are vocal and make noises to warn of predators and to communicate with the mob.
- • Meerkats strong, non-retractable claws can reach up to 2.5cm (1 inch) in length.