Meerkat

Meerkat Suricata suricatta

ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
FamilyHerpestidae
Size24–29cm
Weight600–1,000g
Gestation2½ months
Birth2–5
Life-span12 years
Diet
insectivorous (insects, small vertebrates, eggs...)

Habitat
dry scrubby plains with hard pebbly ground

Range
southern Africa (Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa)


Meerkats live in large family groups numbering around 40. They dig burrows with up to 15 entrances and a network of tunnels that can reach a depth of 1.5m.
 
During the day, meerkats search for food at ground level, with one or more members of the groups taking it in turns to keep watch, often from the top of a mound with a clear view of the surroundings. Sitting on their back paws, the sentinels sound the alarm when danger strikes on the ground or in the air by letting out cries that get louder and faster as the predator approaches. Then the whole of the group runs to shelter in the burrow.
 
All adults in the group help take care of and educate the young, who become independent at the age of about one year.
 
The species is not currently endangered in the wild.




Status in the wild (Source: IUCN)

  • Not evaluated
    NE
  • Data deficient
    DD
  • Least concern
    LC
  • Near threatened
    NT
  • Vulnerable
    VU
  • Endangered
    EN
  •  Critically endangered
    CR
  • Extinct in the wild
    EW
  • Extinct
    EX

In the zoo