Meerkat is a small mammal that belongs to the family of mongoose. It is found in all parts of Kalahari Desert, in South Africa and Botswana. Meerkat is also known as African suricate and Slender-tailed meerkat. It is a typical insectivore, which is expert in finding out its prey. The animal also feeds on small snakes and scorpions. Meerkat digs burrows and always lives in groups popularly called as mob, gang or clan. It has a distinct cry and is even known to change its cry to convey different meanings. We bring you some more interesting facts and amazing information on meerkats, in the lines below.
Facts About Meerkat
Binomial Name: Suricata suricatta
Length: 25 to 35cm
Tail Length: 17 to 25cm
Weight: Male-About 731 grams; Female-720 grams
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Diet: Insects, small rodents, small snakes, scorpions, eggs and fruit
Range: Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South Africa
Age of Sexual Maturity: About 1 year
Gestation Period: Gestation lasts approximately 11 months
Number of Offspring: 1-5 pups; generally 3 at one time
Interesting & Amazing Information On Meerkats
- Meerkat shows altruistic behavior when it is in its colony. One or more meerkats stand in the defensive function, looking out for danger, while the others play or forage around.
- The animal is known to share its burrow with the ground squirrel and yellow mongoose. It never competes with these species for resources. In some rare cases, it is also known to share its burrow with snakes.
- The young meerkat learns from its adult. It is also, at times, instructed by its adult.
- The animal is seen to kill the young members of its group on some occasions. A subordinate meerkat kills the young ones of senior members, so that its own offspring’s position gets improved.
- Meerkat involves in a number of social activities, like foot races and wrestling matches.
- The animal is known to have special calls, meant for specific purposes. Some calls indicate the approach of snakes and birds of prey, while others give the signal about the coming of predators.
- The size of meerkat groups can vary significantly. When a particular group becomes overcrowded, the members choose to disperse, in order to find proper quantity of food.
- The animal is immune to the poison of snakes or scorpions and feeds on them every now and then.
- In no time, a meerkat can dig as much dirt as its own body weight. In case sand falls in its eyes, the animal blinks to remove it.
- At the time of birth, a young meerkat has hair all over the body. However, it does not have coat and the eyes are closed.
- Meerkat has an extraordinary ability of vision, with a dark band around its eyes. This band reduces the glare from the sun. It can see a predatory bird by looking directly into the sun as well.
- The animal cannot estimate the depth of a thing properly. It cannot focus on something that is even 20 feet away.
- Meerkat has a strong sense of smell, which guides it to its food.
- The animal is basically iteroparous in nature and can reproduce at any point of time. However, it is recorded to have maximum births in the warm season
- When in groups, meerkats are seen to groom each other, in order to strengthen the social bond.