The meerkat family has expanded
The baby meerkats born at the end of July have emerged from their den and can now be seen in the enclosure. Their sex is not known yet.
The adults take turns to look after the pups. They sometimes try to bring them back to the den by carrying them in their mouth but they give up quickly because the pups immediately return to their starting point once on the ground!
This diurnal species lives in open semi-arid areas in southern Africa. During the day, meerkats forage together looking for food and rest in shadow area during midday. They essentially feed on insects (beetles, spiders, scorpions) and small vertebrates (lizards, small snakes). At night, the family sleeps together in a den.
Each group usually contains between 6 and 12 individuals who defend a territory with an average home range of 5mk2. Groups have several burrows but usually use a den for longer periods when pups are present. The different members of the group help each other to raise the pups and fight against predators. Social bonds are extremely developed and maintained by grooming and marking. Non-breeding individuals within the group are those most involved in pups’ care and protection, social grooming and provisioning.
The gestation period lasts on average 70 days and litter size varies from 3 to 7. At birth the pups weigh between 25 and 35g. They emerge from the den at around one month old, under the watchful eyes of babysitters in charge of protecting and keeping them warm. Pups are weaned at the age of two months.
Meerkats are very popular and well known for their distinctive upright posture, standing on their hindlegs to observe the surroundings and alert the group to potential predators.
They are not threatened, their habitat being inhospitable for human activities.