The meerkat has a wide distribution in southern Africa, from the southwest of Angola, through Namibia and Botswana, and into west and north South Africa. They inhabit dry open country grasslands and woody scrub.
They are mainly insectivorous, eating insects such as scorpions, beetles, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and worms. They also eat eggs, roots, small reptiles and small mammals.
Part of the mongoose family, meerkats are highly territorial animals that live in groups of up to 30 known as a ‘mob’ or a ‘gang’. Members of each mob will perform ‘sentry duty’ - standing up on their hind legs and standing alert, listening and watching for danger like soldiers on duty. When danger is spotted, the sentry meerkat will give out a call which will let the rest of the mob know exactly what the danger is. There are different calls given for different threats.
The dominant male and female in a group are usually the only ones to successfully breed, but very occasionally other females will reproduce. Up to five young will be born below ground after a gestation period of 11 weeks, and non-breeding adults will help to care for the young.
At present, the wild population of meerkats remains stable.
- Latin Name: Suricata suricatta
- Class: Mammals
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Herpestidae
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
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